Robinson Chirinos received a cortisone injection to help alleviate stiffness in his neck, and the catcher will miss at least a few more games. He missed his fourth straight game Thursday, and the Texas Rangers turned to J.P. Arencibia to fill in.
The club hasn’t yet discussed promoting Jorge Alfaro from Double A Frisco to serve as catching depth, in large part because they expect Chirinos to return this weekend. But Alfaro, a top prospect, could become an option if Chirinos needs an extended stretch to recover.
Chirinos is in the final month of his first full season in the big leagues. He has started 77 games at catcher, and a declining batting average suggests that the wear and tear has caught up to him.
“He’s probably getting a little tired,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s never been through this before. He’s got to learn to deal with that.”
Washington, though, hadn’t been told anything other than Chirinos is dealing with neck stiffness. If the injury is more severe, the Rangers could add Brett Nicholas from Triple A Round Rock or Alfaro.
The Round Rock season has ended, and Alfaro is in the midst of the Texas League playoffs. The Rangers want to keep him in a playoff environment, but he must be added to the 40-man roster this off-season to avoid being exposed to the Rule 5 draft.
“That wasn’t mentioned to me,” Washington said.
Arencibia has been at first base and designated hitter since he was brought back to the Rangers to open the second half. But he started behind the plate to open the homestand as Washington gave rookie Tomas Telis a day off after starting all three games at Kansas City.
“He’s been grinding back there,” Washington said. “He looked a little weary last night.”
The stiffness in the neck of Scott Baker has dissipated, and the right-hander is scheduled to start Friday for the Rangers. That’s the role he would prefer in 2015, but he could have a home with the Rangers as their long man.
He has warmed to being a reliever after starting almost his entire career. There were some bumps in the first half, after a call-up from Triple A, but Baker is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in the second half.
“It feels good to perform well,” he said. “Even in the first half, I didn’t feel like I was that far off.”
Baker has made six spot starts but could be in the rotation the rest of the season. Right-hander Miles Mikolas received a cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder and won’t throw again until the symptoms subside.
“I don’t know where it puts me next year,” Baker said. “I think that’s putting the cart before the horse. There’s a familiarity with starting. Ultimately, that’s what I want to do, but I’m open to other roles as well.”
Patton marches in
Right-hander Spencer Patton joined the Rangers for the opener against Seattle a few days after the rest of the September call-ups. He had a good excuse for being tardy: the birth of his son, Bruer, on Tuesday in Illinois.
“We weren’t sure what was going to happen, so we set an inducement date,” Patton said. “I don’t think it’s set in yet.”
Many expected Patton to reach the Rangers sooner than September after he was acquired from Kansas City in July for Jason Frasor. He thought that might be the case as well, but he didn’t focus on it while going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in Round Rock.
“There was talk of it, but you can’t really expect anything in this game,” Patton said. “I wasn’t putting all my eggs in that basket.”
Right-hander Yu Darvish, out with mild elbow inflammation, was scheduled to see team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Thursday evening, and the results of the exam are expected Friday.
It remains highly unlikely that Darvish will pitch again this season.