Reno connection runs deep with Rangers catchers

Reno connection runs deep with Rangers catchers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers catcher Steven Lerud, in camp on a Minor League contract, has been given No. 38. That's the number worn by catcher Chris Gimenez when he played for the Rangers in 2014-15, and the connection runs deep.

Lerud and Gimenez both live in Reno and work out together in the offseason. Lerud also helped Gimenez many years ago when he was in the Minor Leagues and making the transition to catcher.

Gimenez was an outfielder at the University of Nevada, Reno from 2001-04 while Lerud was a star catcher at Galena (Reno) High. Lerud was drafted by the Pirates in the third round in 2003 and ended up signing with them. Gimenez was drafted by the Indians in 2004 and switched to catcher in 2006.

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"That's when we started to work out together and bounce ideas off each other," Lerud said. "You know how Chris is. He loves to talk. He has had a nice career."

Gimenez wasn't needed to catch at Nevada because future Major League catcher Brett Hayes was handling that. Hayes is now with the Rangers in camp on a Minor League contract.

"I was an outfielder when I went to Reno," Hayes said. "But we had a hundred outfielders so they were going to move me to third base because their third baseman wasn't eligible to play. Then they decided that he was eligible. That was a guy named Kevin Kouzmanoff.

"The one day our catcher didn't show up to catch a bullpen. They asked me to do it. I've been ever since."

Throw in outfielder Chris Dickerson and that's a pretty good college lineup with four future Major League players.

"We could hit but we couldn't pitch very well," Hayes said. 

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.