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Pujols, Molina add to golden stash with standout defense
NEW YORK -- The new version of the Big Red Machine plays some pretty slick defense, too.
Cincinnati third baseman Scott Rolen won his eighth Gold Glove on Wednesday, one of three Reds players to be honored following the team's first playoff appearance in 15 years. Second baseman Brandon Phillips and pitcher Bronson Arroyo also were among the National League recipients announced by Rawlings.
It's the first time Cincinnati has had more than one winner in a season since the days of the Big Red Machine, when catcher Johnny Bench, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepcion and center fielder Cesar Geronimo won four straight years from 1974 to 1977.
"I think our defense won a lot of games this year," Rolen said.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino both garnered their third Gold Glove in a row. Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez joined Arroyo as first-time winners.
"It was definitely a shock," Arroyo said. "Honestly, it never even crossed my mind once throughout my entire career."
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols won for the second time (2006), and speedy Houston center fielder Michael Bourn was a repeat winner.
"Michael's second Gold Glove comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched him play," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "You see the ball leave the bat, and you say, 'No way that one gets caught,' and then Michael runs it down. Some guys make plays look tougher than they are. Michael makes the impossible catch look routine. It's nice to see his hard work get recognized."
Phillips also won in 2008 before Orlando Hudson took the NL award at second base last year.
Rolen was selected for the first time since 2006. His eight Gold Gloves rank third at his position behind Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10).
On a conference call with all three Reds winners, the 35-year-old Rolen joked that he and general manager Walt Jocketty already had discussed a six-to-eight-year contract extension for "unlimited dollars" so he could chase Schmidt and Robinson.
"I think Mike Schmidt was the best third baseman to ever play the game," Rolen said. "To be with those guys obviously is an amazing compliment."
Cincinnati tied for the major league lead with a club-record .988 fielding percentage, a big reason the resurgent Reds won the NL Central before losing to Philadelphia in a first-round playoff sweep. They committed only 72 errors, 17 fewer than the previous team record set last year.
"Having a great defensive infield is such a bonus," Arroyo said. "To have the year that we had defensively definitely contributed to us making the playoffs."
Rolen thinks other Cincinnati players such as first baseman Joey Votto, a leading contender for NL MVP this year, and outfielders Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs could be future Gold Glove winners, too.
"As we put this team together," Jocketty said, "one of the things that we emphasized was improving our defense.
"We are very pleased and also very proud of these guys. I think it's a great accomplishment for our organization and these guys in particular."
By winning, Phillips receives a $250,000 increase in his salary next year to $11.25 million. Molina, Pujols, Rolen and Victorino each get $50,000 bonuses, and Bourn and Tulowitzki receive $25,000 apiece.
"It's an honor to be recognized by the managers and coaches as one of the top defensive players in the league along with all the other deserving candidates," Victorino said in a Phillies statement. "I take a lot of pride in my defense and this award means a lot to me."
Molina, who threw out 44 percent of opposing base stealers, joined Mike Matheny (2000, 2003, 2004) and Tom Pagnozzi (1991, 1992, 1994) as Cardinals catchers to win three times.
Rawlings has awarded Gold Gloves since 1957. Managers and coaches vote for players in their leagues before the end of the regular season, but they can't choose members of their own teams.
The AL awards were announced Tuesday, with three New York Yankees infielders honored.