Rangers rich in catchers with Chirinos back

Rangers rich in catchers with Chirinos back

OAKLAND -- Robinson Chirinos' first hit off the disabled list was a big one.

Chirinos, down 0-2 in the count and with the score tied at 1, crushed a hanging curveball from Eric Surkamp over the left-field fence for a three-run home run in the second inning that helped carry the Rangers to a 10-6 victory over the Athletics on Tuesday night.

Chirinos was 0-for-6 with two walks since being activated off the DL last week. Before the homer, his last hit was a double on April 8, and his only other home run had come the day before that.

"It feels good to get us ahead like that," Chirinos said.

Chirinos was on the DL from April 10 to June 9 with a fractured right forearm, but the Rangers were able to manage without him because of the excellent work of Bobby Wilson, Bryan Holaday and Brett Nicholas.

The Rangers are 35-22 with those three behind the plate. Their catchers rank among the top at their position in most offensive categories; they were third, with a combined .262 batting average and second with a .759 OPS.

"I have to do what I have been doing the last three years," Chirinos said. "Hit, be consistent behind the plate and work with my pitchers. Every day I see my name in the lineup I have to do my job."

Manager Jeff Banister said what Chirinos did on Tuesday night falls in line with what his other catchers have done.

"It's a plus for him and a plus for us," Banister said. "It looks like he's feeling good and seeing the ball well. It's a good mix for us behind the plate."

Chirinos has caught three of the last five games. with Wilson behind the plate for the other two. Holaday hasn't caught since last Thursday, when he worked a 5-3 victory over the Astros with Martin Perez on the mound. It was the Rangers' seventh straight victory with Holaday at catcher.

Since then, Holaday has been taking ground balls at third base and fly balls in the outfield. He was used for three innings in left field on Monday night to give Ian Desmond time off in a 14-5 loss.

The Rangers are staying with three catchers for now because both Wilson and Holaday are out of options. They can't be sent to the Minor Leagues without going through outright waivers, and the Rangers expect one or the other would be claimed given the widespread need for catching throughout baseball.

The Rangers need the depth because Chirinos has missed significant time the past two seasons with injuries. The Rangers also know that none of their catchers has experience in handling the job full-time like Salvador Perez of the Royals or Yadier Molina of the Cardinals do.

"We know where Chirinos is at," Banister said. "We still need Holaday and Bobby in the mix and be contributors, too."

The Rangers have done extremely well to this point, possibly diminishing the need to expend top prospects to trade for Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers or Derek Norris of the Padres.

Chirinos needs to keep it going now that he is in the No. 1 spot again.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.