ARLINGTON -- The "Odd Couple" seems to be everywhere for the Rangers this winter. When shortstop Elvis Andrus and catcher Robinson Chirinos aren't working out at Globe Life Park, they are playing golf together, enjoying a family barbecue or taking target practice at a local gun range.They have also been
ARLINGTON -- The "Odd Couple" seems to be everywhere for the Rangers this winter. When shortstop Elvis Andrus and catcher Robinson Chirinos aren't working out at Globe Life Park, they are playing golf together, enjoying a family barbecue or taking target practice at a local gun range.
They have also been out front on almost all of the Rangers' recent charity events. Chirinos was the Honorary Chairman for the Rangers Cowboys Santa Toy Drive and hosted a holiday dinner at a local charity for the homeless. Andrus was there as well, so when he hosted dinner for the Special Olympics, Chirinos stopped by.
In an offseason when most Rangers players are scattered to their homes across the country and around the world, Andrus and Chirinos have been visible for the ballclub at a number of events. They are both from Venezuela, but with each passing offseason, they spend less time in their home country and more time in Arlington.
"This is the organization that gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues," Andrus said. "I love this city and love this club. As long as I can do something positive for the team, inside or outside the field, I am down for it."
They seem to be an odd pairing because they are different. Andrus loves to talk nonstop while driving his teammates crazy. He is the clubhouse DJ lording over the music being played and the master of ceremonies in all group settings.
Chirinos is quiet, soft-spoken and rarely the center of attention. Third baseman Adrian Beltre has never expressed a desire to pummel Chirinos whereas he has come close to throttling Andrus on a number of occasions. Chirinos is four years older, but Andrus has almost four more years of Major League experience.
But they have known each other for more than 15 years, going back to 2000, when Chirinos was teammates with Erold Andrus and little brother Elvis was hanging around as a precocious 12-year-old.
"He was a guy running around all over the place, chasing the ball, hitting and loving the game," Chirinos said. "He had a dream of being in the big leagues. He is still the same guy."
They didn't get to play with each other until 2013, when the Rangers acquired Chirinos from the Rays. Chirinos was in his 14th professional season, having been signed by the Cubs in 2000 as an infielder, traded to the Rays and converted to catcher. Chirinos also missed the entire 2012 season because of a concussion after taking a foul ball off the mask.
Andrus was always a top prospect going back to when he was with the Braves, while Chirinos had to scratch and claw his way through the Minor Leagues. He didn't make his Major League debut until 2011. His first full season in the Majors wasn't until 2014.
"We are really great friends from Venezuela, and now that we get to play together in the big leagues, it is pretty amazing," Andrus said. "It has been amazing for him to go from playing the infield to become one of the best catchers, especially defensively. He's getting healthy, he is getting better. He knows he is getting better. He is getting more experience catching every year. He is going to be a key factor for us."
Andrus admitted he is the one who does most of the talking -- how can he deny it -- but added that Chirinos does know how to communicate when needed.
"He's always quiet on the field, but when he needs to talk, he's right there," Andrus said. "He is a pretty smart guy. He loves to work hard and he is the first guy who is going to have your back. Guys listen to him."
Chirinos has no choice but to listen to Andrus. It's hard to tune him out, but Chirinos doesn't mind at all.
"He has a really good heart," Chirinos said. "He is a family guy. Other people see him as being single and kind of like play around and don't care about his family. He loves his family. He calls his mom every day. He cares about his family and what's happening with them.
"He is a really good friend, a guy you can count on. If I blew up my tire at 2 in the morning, he is the guy I would call. I know he would get out of bed and come help me fix that tire.
"That's the guy I would call in an emergency."
Or just to hang out at a barbecue or the local rifle range. Andrus and Chirinos have been doing that a lot this winter, and their close friendship continues to benefit the community.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.