Texas Rangers

Chirinos makes most of limited action behind Lucroy

Robinson Chirinos still views himself as an every day catcher. Mentally, he says, he arrives at the ballpark each day expecting to start.

But most days, he knows he won’t be in the Texas Rangers’ lineup. Jonathan Lucroy, who the Rangers acquired via trade last August, is the club’s starting catcher.

But don’t call Chirinos a backup. Just about everyone around the team bristles at that designation.

That mental approach, Chirinos said, has helped him stay engaged without regular at-bats. He was behind the plate Saturday night in the Rangers’ 6-5 win over the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park. The Rangers scored four times in the seventh for their season-high fifth consecutive win and third consecutive comeback. Down 4-2, Elvis Andrus tied it with a two-run single and Nomar Mazara’s two-run double gave the Rangers the lead.

“I believe when I’m coming to the field every day that I’m playing,” said Chirinos, who entered Saturday’s game hitting .294 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 34 at-bats. He was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored on Saturday.

When Lucroy joined the team from the Milwaukee Brewers at last year’s trade deadline, Chirinos was understandably shaken. He was the Rangers’ front line catcher, but injuries in 2015 and early in ’16 kept him off the field for chunks of time.

“He was pretty beat up throughout [last] year,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I’m sure emotionally early on it was a challenge, going from being the No. 1 guy to being injured to having a catcher traded for and becoming the No. 2 guy.”

Chirinos admitted taking a week to adjust to the Lucroy news last August. Once he got through the initial disappointment, however, Chirinos turned it into a positive.

“[It showed] the true professionalism of Chirinos,” Banister said. “I think he’s as strong a leader in our clubhouse as anybody out there.”

After that initial shock, Chirinos asked himself how he could improve his game.

“So I went to the cage and did a few little things in my swing and just made the best of my opportunities. When you’re going through a struggle or facing something you don’t like, you either go up or down. And I chose to make the best of the opportunity and it’s been showing up.”

To stay engaged with the pitching staff, Chirinos has been catching the bullpen sessions for the starting pitchers on days he’s not starting.

“I go out and talk to the guys throwing the bullpen that day, see what they’re working on,” he said. “That’s something that has helped me a lot to call a good game when I’m playing.”

The Rangers rewarded Chirinos for his loyalty with a contract extension in March through the 2018 season. General manager Jon Daniels and Banister both believe they have two starting catchers on their roster.

“I know he doesn’t view himself as a backup. We don’t necessarily view him as a backup. We view him as one of our catchers, one of our leaders, and I think that goes a long ways in the confidence of the guy. Our pitchers love throwing to him, also. There’s not any decline in any way when we have Chirinos behind the plate.”

Chirinos credits Lucroy for making him a better catcher.

“We understand we’re here together. I’m not fighting for his job and he’s not fighting for my job. We have to be able to work together for the pitching staff and find a way to win games. That’s it. To able to do that we have to have a good relationship,” he said. “The days he’s catching, I’m right there talking and asking questions. And the days I’m catching, he’s right there asking questions. That’s the way we’ve been doing it.”

Chirinos expects to be a starting catcher again. Until then, he’ll continue to think like one.

“I believe I’ll have the opportunity to catch every day in the big leagues again. I don’t know if it’s going to happen this year, next year, who knows,” he said.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Oakland

000

120

110

5

11

0

Texas

001

100

40x

6

10

0

Oakland AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

R.Davis cf

4

1

1

0

0

0

.211

Joyce rf

4

0

1

2

0

0

.190

Lowrie 2b

4

1

1

0

0

0

.289

K.Davis lf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.219

Alonso 1b

4

1

2

2

0

1

.302

Healy dh

4

0

2

0

0

1

.250

Plouffe 3b

4

1

1

0

0

1

.230

Maxwell c

3

1

1

0

1

1

.211

Rosales ss

3

0

2

1

0

0

.269

Vogt ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.198

Totals 35

5

11

5

1

5

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Choo dh

4

1

0

0

1

1

.244

Andrus ss

4

1

2

3

0

1

.276

Mazara rf

4

0

2

2

0

0

.242

Chirinos c

3

1

1

0

1

0

.297

Odor 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.201

Napoli 1b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.170

Gomez cf

4

0

1

1

0

0

.230

Gallo 3b

2

2

0

0

2

2

.200

DeShields lf

3

1

2

0

0

0

.243

Rua lf

1

0

1

0

0

0

.179

Totals 33

6

10

6

4

5

LOB—Oakland 4, Texas 7. 2B—Lowrie (10), Mazara 2 (7). HR—Alonso (12), off Kela. RBIs—Joyce 2 (13), Alonso 2 (29), Rosales (11), Andrus 3 (16), Mazara 2 (25), Gomez (13). SB—Andrus (7), Odor (3), Rua (2). Runners left in scoring position—Oakland 1 (Plouffe); Texas 6 (Choo 2, Mazara, Napoli, Gomez, Gallo). RISP—Oakland 3 for 7; Texas 3 for 14. DP—Oakland 1; Texas 2.

Oakland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gray

6

5

2

2

2

3

106

3.78

Dull, L1-2, H8

 1/3

1

3

3

2

0

20

6.28

Hendriks, BS, 1-1

 2/3

2

1

1

0

0

13

3.86

Montas

 2/3

2

0

0

0

2

22

6.23

Coulombe

 1/3

0

0

0

0

0

4

2.92

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Martinez

6

7

3

3

1

1

91

5.04

Barnette, W, 1-0

1

3

1

1

0

0

18

5.14

Kela, H, 3

1

1

1

1

0

2

17

4.85

Bush, S, 3-4

1

0

0

0

0

2

13

1.42

Inherited runners-scored—Hendriks 3-3, Coulombe 2-0. WP—Martinez, Dull. T—3:26. A—37,898 (48,114).

Monday: Idle

Rangers vs. Phillies

7:30 p.m., Tuesday, FSSW

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