No position player — not a single one — signs his first professional contract with the thought that he can’t be an everyday major leaguer at some point.
Most don’t make it to the majors. Of those that do, many are destined to be part-time players. For all of those part-timers, it’s not easy accepting that they can’t or won’t play regularly.
Eventually they have to come to terms with their role. They’re still driven to be great and can still dream big, but maybe they’re better off accepting their career path.
That’s how Chris Gimenez sees it. He’s been recalled, optioned, designated for assignment and purchased throughout his career. All of those experiences have made him realize that he’s not an everyday player, and, well, that’s fine.
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But the Texas Rangers catcher is enjoying a breakthrough month, the best of his career, a month that has him playing multiple times per week in a playoff race and has put him in position to keep playing even after Robinson Chirinos returns from the disabled list.
“I’ve learned throughout the years that I know the type of player I am,” Gimenez said. “When I was younger, I was trying to hit three home runs in a game to play within the next few days. But now it’s a completely different story. I know I need to do my catching and be mentally prepared for that, and whatever I do offensively is a big plus.
“Everybody wants to play every day. If you don’t have that goal, you shouldn’t be playing in the first place. But I think I’ve come to grips with it. I’m 32 years old now, and I’ve had some really good experiences that have helped me prepare for that role. I’m OK with it.”
Gimenez will likely start Sunday in the finale of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. Bobby Wilson started for a second straight night Saturday in a late game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Gimenez entered Saturday batting .265 with a career-high five homers and 11 RBIs. The home runs came in his past 14 games — four in his past 10.
The Rangers are 13-3 in his starts behind the plate, and he caught Derek Holland’s three-hitter last weekend. Those two weren’t matched up again Saturday, but since his contract was purchased from Triple A Round Rock, Gimenez has looked like an everyday player.
Chris Gimenez has hit as many as 26 homers in a season in the minors, but the five he has hit this season with the Rangers are a career high.
“I’m not going to be an everyday catcher at 33 or 34 years old,” he said. “If I can hang around as long as I can by doing what I’m doing, I’m completely OK with it. I’m not complacent, but I understand it.
“Would I love to play every day? Absolutely. But I also know that I would get exposed and then they won’t let me anymore.”
Chirinos has been out more than a month with a strained left shoulder and is rehabbing with Round Rock. The Triple A regular season ends Monday, but Round Rock will continue playing in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
Manager Jeff Banister said there is no set date for Chirinos’ return, though it’s probable that he will be back at some point in the next week.
“He’s checked off all the boxes so far,” Banister said. “When he’s ready, we’ll get him here.”
That will give the Rangers four catchers, as Chirinos joins Gimenez, Wilson and Carlos Corporan. Gimenez is outhitting Wilson, and their defense is a push. Corporan appears to be an afterthought.
If I can hang around as long as I can by doing what I’m doing, I’m completely OK with it. I’m not complacent, but I understand it. Would I love to play every day? Absolutely. But I also know that I would get exposed and then they won’t let me anymore.
The Rangers like their situation behind the plate, and so does Gimenez, even with Chirinos returning. Nothing is certain moving forward, but over the past month Gimenez has put himself in position to keep playing regularly.
“But if they want me to be the third catcher, that’s fine too,” Gimenez said. “I think I’ve proven myself a little bit this last month, and it’s a good feeling.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I think I potentially have even surprised myself. The catching part of it, that’s what I’m supposed to do. The offensive side sticks out a little more right now. But it’s been a lot of fun. This team’s been a lot of fun.”