JUNIPER, Fl. USA — St. Louis Cardinals Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina has been named the new manager of the Puerto Rican U-23 National Team, Jose Quiles, president of the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation announced, generating major headlines across baseball-crazed Puerto Rico.

Molina and his squad will make their official debut at the 24 November to 3 December Pan American U-23 Baseball Championship in Panama, which serves as a qualifier for the III WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup 2018.

Yadier, an eight-time Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star and two-time World Series champion, was the captain of the Puerto Rican Men’s National Team that earned a silver medal at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, where he earned All-WBC Team honours, and where he led preparation meetings and guided the pitching staff. He also earned a silver and All-WBC Team honours with Puerto Rico in 2013.

“I am very proud and honoured that…the president of the federation called me,” said Molina. “I’m pumped. We have some super talented prospects on the team…[the federation and I] are putting together the game-plan to do a good job and represent Puerto Rico very well.”

Molina named ex-big leaguers Jose Oquendo and brother Jose Molina as well as Victor Ramos to the coaching staff.

With the island of Puerto Rico still recovering after being devastated by Hurricane Maria, Molina and the coaching staff have programmed initial training sessions in Jupiter, Florida, where the Cardinals hold spring training.

Federation president Quiles hopes a good performance at the inaugural Pan American U-23 Baseball Championship will help bring pride and happiness to a nation still struggling with the damage from Hurricane Maria.

As baseball is the national sport of Puerto Rico, Quiles said, “Our country [right now] needs positive news and events that can unite us as a people.”