Chirinos thrives in return to Arlington

Astros catcher spent the past six seasons with Texas

April 2nd, 2019

ARLINGTON -- During his six years with the Rangers, Astros catcher had a morning routine that began at the crack of dawn and involved coffee, breakfast and quality time with his now 11-year-old son, David.

Chirinos was able to resume those past habits on Monday morning in advance of the start of the Astros' three-game set with the Rangers at Globe Life Park. The Chirinos family still resides in nearby Colleyville, Texas, which allowed the veteran catcher and father of two a few minutes of doing those "dad" things that some may take for granted.

"Normally, that was my routine when I used to play for the Rangers," Chirinos said before the game. "Waking up at 6:45 [a.m.], eat with my son, get a coffee and take him to school. Come back home and take a nap for an hour or two hours. I did it today, and I feel good."

He felt even better after the Astros’ 2-1 win, especially since he was right in the middle of two key moments that helped his team squeak its way to victory. In the sixth inning, Chirinos’ double scored Carlos Correa and broke a 1-1 tie. Then, in the seventh, Chirinos made a perfect throw to second base, preventing Rougned Odor from stealing second base with no outs.

Chirinos had an inkling that Odor was going to be on the move. Well, it was more than an inkling -- Odor told him as much before the game.

“He told me, ‘Get ready. I'm stealing two bases today,’” Chirinos chuckled. “I said, 'All right, go ahead.’

“I felt perfect, like I did everything I needed to do to throw him out. I was able to stay in line and make a good throw.”

There was some redemption attached to that play. Last year, Chirinos threw out only three baserunners in 56 attempts.

“Obviously, there was a lot that went into today's game,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “But a big hit, and one of the best parts of the night was when he threw out Odor at second base. It probably meant a little something special to him, coming back for the first time, and having a good game like that. What a huge night for him.”

Before the game, the affable catcher was effusive with his praise toward his former teammates and also the Rangers’ front office, which he pointed out took a chance on him after he missed the entire 2012 season dealing with the effects of a concussion he sustained during Spring Training.

Still, his departure from the team after a six-year tenure that spanned from 2013-18 was a bit abrupt. Chirinos was under the impression, based on conversations with the Rangers’ front office last year, that he would come back for another season, and he was surprised to find out early in the offseason that the team did not pick up the option on his contract.

Chirinos wasn't a free agent for long, though. The Astros pounced, signing him to a one-year deal on Dec. 6.

"I know it was a baseball business decision," Chirinos said of the Rangers cutting ties with him, "and I respect that."

After the game, Chirinos said he felt more nervous taking the field on Monday “than I did when I debuted in the big leagues.”

Chirinos, who will stay in the area on the off-day Thursday to celebrate his 1-year-old son’s birthday, said he dropped by the home clubhouse when he arrived to the ballpark to see old teammates and friends, who, as expected, greeted him with humor when he walked in.

"Guys were joking, like, 'Get out of here,'" Chirinos said. "Those guys over there, they're good people. I don't have anything but good stuff to say about my ex-teammates.

“There's a lot to be thankful for on the other side. It's part of the game … moving forward, I’m excited to be with this [Astros] team now. I'll do everything I can to help this team get back to a championship.”