Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Things get weird for Rangers at home plate

Robinson Chirinos explains why he shoved Matt Kemp

Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp got into a shoving match Wednesday night after a collision at home plate. Chirinos didn’t like Kemp’s reaction after the play.
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Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp got into a shoving match Wednesday night after a collision at home plate. Chirinos didn’t like Kemp’s reaction after the play.

One of the bonuses that comes with being on the board for the Do It For Durrett Foundation is the chance to reconnect with past Texas Rangers players, coaches and executives who are glad to lend their help to the cause.

Former manager Ron Washington, now coaching infielders and third base for the upstart Atlanta Braves, has been busy harvesting items for the silent auction at the June 27 event at Globe Life Park (tickets available at doitfordurrett.com/shop).

He was in good spirits and fired up when he called June 2 to give an update on his Durrett progress.

For those who want to reconnect with Washington, he was the featured interview in the weekly Yahoo! Sports MLB podcast this week. Check it out here.

In 2014 he went through a similar season to the one the Rangers are experiencing this season. The young players came up then, and they are coming now.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a sixth straight loss, 3-2 in 11 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If only it were that simple.

1. Robinson Chirinos is probably the nicest guy the Rangers have on their team this season. He's a family man, a religious man and a charitable man.

But don't forget: Chirinos is a catcher, and catchers are tough.

Chirinos stood up for himself at the end of the third inning after Matt Kemp attempted to take him out on a play at the plate. Kemp was going to be out, an easy out, and it even looked like he slowed down as if to surrender.

Then he dropped his shoulder and plowed into Chirinos anyway.

But not even that ticked off Mr. Congeniality. It was what he perceived Kemp did as they were trying to untangle and stand up. Kemp nudged Chirinos, and he didn't think it was an accident.

"When I got mad was when he got up, he leaned into me with his shoulder," Chirinos said. "That's when I got mad and I pushed him."

The play itself is legal, Chirinos and starting pitcher Cole Hamels and manager Jeff Banister all agreed. The slide would not have been an issue five years ago, but rules protecting catchers were instituted in 2014.

"The sportsmanship now, it changes," Hamels said. "I was all for the contact back in the day."

What Kemp did has become a rarity. Chirinos was expecting Kemp to give himself up.

He didn't, and Chirinos was in a position to be injured.

"You don't want Chirinos to get hurt," Hamels said. "He's in a very vulnerable position when he's trying to reach out, grab and ball and make a play. But with him, I think there's an understanding that he can just grab it and know that it's going to be an easier out without having to look for that hard contact."

Chirinos said that he is fine physically, but not everyone is. Right-hander Chris Martin tweaked a hamstring coming out of the dugout as the benches cleared, and he wasn't available to pitch later in the game.

The Rangers could have used him. Maybe he could have made a clean throw home in the 11th inning.

2. The Rangers sure can find amazing ways to lose games, can't they?

The latest mind-blower came on a walk-off throwing error to home plate by a player who makes throws to home plate for a living.

Right-hander Matt Bush threw wide, really wide, on a tapper to the right of the mound, and the winning run scored as catcher Carlos Perez's swipes at the runner coming from third and then at the plate came up empty.

Bush cringed after the error. The media missed out talking to him as Chirinos emerged at his locker as Bush was finishing getting dressed.

But there wasn't much to say. He simply rushed a throw on what could have been an inning-ending double play. If it's just the force at home, the pitcher has to bat next and the Rangers likely get out of the jam.

"He's got plenty of time to collect himself and make a solid throw to the plate," Banister said. "It's looks like he rushed it a little bit and got excited about making a play and threw it away."

As the Rangers play with no margin for error, they continue to make costly mistakes that usually come back to bite them.

The Rangers lost Sunday after a balk on Keone Kela was called only after Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought it to the umpires' attention. It was a balk, no doubt, but all four umpires missed it as it happened.

Take Memorial Day at Seattle. They had not one but two runners picked off at second base in a 2-1 loss.

There are more, but it's late and probably depressing for Rangers fans.

The one Wednesday is enough.

3. Ordinarily, Hamels would be in the leadoff spot in Rangers Reaction. He's on the trading block, if you've been asleep the past three weeks and haven't heard, and he pitched pretty darn well against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers might have use for a pitcher depending on the health of Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, so from a trade perspective they probably liked what they saw as Hamels allowed only two runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings.

The New York Yankees, who definitely need a starting pitcher, are considered the early favorites to land the left-hander. They could afford to pick up the option on his 2019 contract, a provision Hamels reportedly will insist upon to waive his no-trade rights.

But a trade for Hamels is no lock, with the contract issues and his age and the decline of his fastball and the 2017 stats (and some of the 2018 numbers) that have many questioning how effective he can still be.

What would they get in return? A lot that depends on how much of the money the remaining money the would be willing to eat. It also depends on how many teams are involved.

The Rangers didn't get the package many anticipated the would get for Yu Darvish because the Dodgers appeared to be the only team seriously pursuing him. If the Yankees are the only bidders, the package might be similar to the Darvish three-prospect return.

A team's third- or fourth-best prospect and a couple lower in the rankings who might develop into major-leaguers.

Sure the Rangers are in development mode, but they shouldn't just give him away.

4. The next step in the Rangers' development plan will be taken Friday, when rookie Yohander Mendez makes his first career start in what will be an extended look at him in the rotation.

It feels like this one is past due, but the Rangers tapped the brakes on him last season after his four-level 2016. He pitched at only Double A Frisco in 2017 before getting a September call-up from the Rangers.

Mendez will also be out of options next season, so it's time to let him figure things out at the big-league level. It could be hard to watch at times, as is the case for many rookies on rebuilding/development-minded teams.

Mendez's No. 1 issue has been fastball command, and that is why he stayed at Double A all of last year. The Rangers wanted him to work on being able to put his fastball where he wants when he wants it to make his plus-changeup even more effective.

He has continued that work this season at Triple A Round Rock, along with trying to hone his curveballs. If Mendez can work at head of hitters with two quality off-speed offerings, he can be effective.

Now that Mendez is on his way, who might be next? Well, the answer to that is Yovani Gallardo, not exactly a piece for the future.

But the Rangers need Gallardo, who can opt out of his minor-league deal Friday. They need him to start Sunday, for one, as Bartolo Colon takes some extra rest, but the Rangers have some serious depth issues and could be facing more.

The Rangers will need a starter for as long as Doug Fister is on the disabled list. The Rangers will need a starter if Hamels is traded. They will be short a starter if Matt Moore doesn't sort things out in the bullpen.

Martin Perez is going to pitch again this season, allegedly. The earliest it seems he would return from the DL is after the All-Star break.

Ariel Jurado might become an option, though his recent outings with Frisco have been pretty rough. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is another option, though he also isn't a building block for the future.

And that's it.

Expect to see Gallardo on Sunday.

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