29-year-old will fill backup catcher role following Lucroy trade
By Sam Butler
ARLINGTON -- With the trade of catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado, the Rangers are down to two catchers again. Robinson Chirinos will assume full-time duties, while Brett Nicholas, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock last week, will slide into the backup role.
Chirinos is batting .211 with 12 homers and 26 RBIs this year, and has started 42 games at catcher. But Nicholas started Tuesday's game against the Mariners and went 0-for-4 in the Rangers' 8-7 loss.
Nicholas caught for starter Nick Martinez while the two were in Round Rock, so Nicholas has some experience handling him. For Nicholas, the increased role he's now going to be accepting is something he'll relish.
"I love the challenge. Whatever it ends up being, I'll take advantage of it," Nicholas said. "I think the key is to have fun with it. With the veterans that are here, you don't have to do a whole lot. They can bear everything. I just make sure that I can contribute a little and, like I said with the pitching staff, the important part is getting them in the best situation to set us up to win."
While the lefty-hitting Nicholas came into Tuesday's game with just one at-bat on the season (he grounded out), he batted .275 with a pair of homers and four RBIs in 15 games over two stints in 2016.
"He has been doing well in Triple-A," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He's caught all of these guys. We feel confident he's going to step in with a fresh set of eyes and some energy that I hope really ignites some of these guys."
Ross's rehab start goes well
Right-hander Tyson Ross was placed on the 10-day disabled list July 24 with a blister on his right index finger. He made a rehab start with Double-A Frisco on Monday, and the reports were promising.
Ross gave up two earned runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and a pair of strikeouts on 80 pitches. Then again, results are usually the last thing anyone is concerned about in rehab outings.
"Found better feel for the sinker," Banister said. "Not only the report, but also from him, there was some real excitement in him today. [Brian] Shouse, the pitching coach, was very optimistic in what he saw. Rhythm in the delivery was a little more intact."
The timetable for Ross' return hasn't been set. Banister said they'd wait to see how Ross' finger is before determining whether he will require another rehab start or if he's ready to rejoin the Rangers' rotation.
• After scoring two runs in the first inning on Monday, the Rangers stretched their total to 71 runs scored in the opening frame, highest in the American League.
• Also on Tuesday, Adrian Beltre singled off Felix Hernandez for his 3,001st career hit, passing Roberto Clemente for sole possession of 30th all-time. He's just six hits shy of matching Al Kaline for 29th all-time.
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. He covered the Rangers on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.