Gimenez homers in front of family, friends

Gimenez homers in front of family, friends

OAKLAND -- Chris Gimenez was happy not to hear a familiar voice yelling at him from the Coliseum crowd on Tuesday night. The Indians' catcher drew a walk. He did not swing at any bad pitches. For the first time as a Major Leaguer, he also belted a home run with his parents in the stands.

The catcher was mostly relieved, because his 85-year-old grandmother, Julia, liked what she saw.

"She's feisty," Gimenez said with a laugh on Wednesday morning. "She's like my personal hitting coach. She'll call me all the time and tell me I'm pulling my head or doing this or that. She's an angel. I was pretty happy that she was there."

Gimenez, 33, grew up in Gilroy, Calif., which is located roughly an hour south of the Coliseum. The backup catcher has appeared in 274 big league games in parts of eight seasons with the Indians, Rangers, Rays and Mariners, but only five have come at the home of the A's, his childhood team.

For Tuesday's game against Oakland, Gimenez estimated that around 100 family and friends were in the seats to watch him start behind the plate. Beyond his parents and grandmother, Gimenez had his in-laws, uncles, aunts, cousins, agent and friends -- and friends of friends -- on hand to cheer him on.

"It's pretty cool that people still like me enough, I guess," Gimenez quipped, "that after all these years, they still come up and watch me."

With the unofficial Gimenez fan club in attendance, the catcher provided Cleveland's only bit of offense in a 9-1 loss to Oakland. In the sixth inning, the catcher pulled a 1-1 fastball from A's lefty Sean Manaea to deep left field, where it disappeared behind the green wall for a leadoff home run. It was his fourth homer of the year and the 15th he has hit in 750 career plate appearances.

"That's the first time my mom and dad have seen me live hit a homer in the big leagues," Gimenez said with a smile. "They've seen them on TV, but I'm never close enough to home when I hit them. They're never there, so that was pretty cool."

And, his grandma did not have anything to criticize.

"I'm not sure she realizes we have hitting coaches," Gimenez joked. "It's one of those things you just laugh at, and you realize how much you're going to miss it someday when it's gone."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.