ARLINGTON -- Robinson Chirinos was back in the lineup and starting against the Tigers on Wednesday night. It was just his second start since July 30, as he has been dealing with a torn tendon in his left shoulder. In his first at-bat, he led off the third with his 10th homer, sparking a four-run inning that put the Rangers ahead to stay in a 6-2 victory.
Chirinos is healthy enough to play, and manager Jeff Banister wanted him behind the plate with Yovani Gallardo on the mound for the Rangers and left-hander Matt Boyd pitching for the Tigers.
"I have confidence he has been doing his homework and is familiar with Yovani," Banister said. "There are no concerns about the strength [of Chirinos' shoulder], it becomes a pain-tolerance issue and what he is capable of doing. On the catching side, there are no reservations. With the way the tendon is, there are no restrictions. It is what his pain tolerance is."
Chirinos was the Rangers' No. 1 catcher for the first four months of the season before he came down with the shoulder problem. He was on the disabled list from Aug. 1 to Sept. 7. The 31-year-old made one start, on Sept. 9, then was shut down for 19 days with more pain in the shoulder. At one point it appeared that he might be done for the season.
But he has made enough progress in the past week to make late-inning appearances on Monday and Tuesday. He has also been catching simulated games in the indoor batting cage and the Rangers have seen enough to believe he can start a regular-season game.
"I'm excited to see my name in the lineup," Chirinos said. "I have put the work in and the trainers have helped me get back in the lineup. Thank God. He has given me a chance to get back on the field."
The Rangers are willing to use Chirinos because they have three other catchers on the roster. During the postseason, it would be a different story. The Rangers, who entered Wednesday's series finale with a two-game lead on the Angels in the American League West, will only have two catchers on the roster if they make the postseason, so they have to be sure that Chirinos is fully ready to go if he's going to be one of them.
"You'd hate to be in a situation where you get into an extra-inning game, a catcher goes down in the third inning and another goes down in the 14th inning," Banister said. "In postseason, it gets a little dicey if a guy is borderline. It's the ability to stay relatively healthy so he can tolerate any pain he has."
Chris Gimenez and Bobby Wilson have shared the catching duties since Aug. 1. Carlos Corporan was the backup catcher for the first half of the season, but he has been sidelined since the All-Star break with a sprained left thumb.
• The Rangers have won nine straight games with left-hander Cole Hamels on the mound. It is the team's longest streak behind an individeual pitcher since the Rangers won nine straight with C.J. Wilson on the mound in 2010. They had a 10-game winning streak behind Roger Pavlik in 1993.
• Shawn Tolleson did not become the Rangers' closer until May 20, but his 34 saves are tied for the 10th most in one season in club history. He has been successful on 34 of 36 save opportunities, a 94.4 success rate that is currently the highest in club history among relievers with at least 20 saves in one season.