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Chirinos returns from sprained right ankle

Rangers catcher sits out 3 games after collision; Diekman getting closer
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- After sitting out the Rangers' first three games of their homestand, Robinson Chirinos returned to the starting lineup Friday for the series opener against the Orioles.

He had been sitting out as a precaution after suffering a sprained left ankle Sunday in St. Petersburg when the Rays' Adeiny Hechavarria collided with him at home plate, but the injury wasn't serious and he was healthy enough to start Friday.

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ARLINGTON -- After sitting out the Rangers' first three games of their homestand, Robinson Chirinos returned to the starting lineup Friday for the series opener against the Orioles.

He had been sitting out as a precaution after suffering a sprained left ankle Sunday in St. Petersburg when the Rays' Adeiny Hechavarria collided with him at home plate, but the injury wasn't serious and he was healthy enough to start Friday.

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"Between him and the medical staff, the medical staff gave him a go-ahead," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "... The off-day went well for him. Talked to him earlier today, he said he was a player, so go ahead and get him back in there."

Chirinos would've been available in an emergency-type situation through any of the games against the Marlins, but the Rangers didn't need to use him. Jonathan Lucroy started each of the three, and with Brett Nicholas on the roster after being called up from Triple-A Round Rock, Chirinos was able to sit out and rest his ankle.

Nicholas will stay on the roster for the moment, at least until the Rangers see if Chirinos can get through playing a game. But even beyond that, the Rangers might consider keeping Nicholas up regardless of whether Chirinos is OK.

"It gives us an opportunity to ... look if we want to run for one of those catchers, or if we want to hit for somebody, we can still ... or if we do the double thing, and have them both in the game," Banister said. "I still want to have an opportunity where [Nicholas] gets in there behind the plate."

Diekman progressing

On Friday, Jake Diekman laid out the steps he still has to overcome to pitch in a big league game. He is over a month and a half removed from undergoing a third and final surgery to correct his ulcerative collitis, and he's getting close to pitching for the Rangers for the first time since last Oct. 2.

Diekman threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Wednesday, and he's scheduled to throw another Saturday. After that, he'll throw live bating practice Wednesday at the end of the Rangers' homestand.

"I told them I didn't really want a [radar] gun until Wednesday when I throw a live BP," Diekman said. "That would be like a determining [factor] of how close I am, actually. If I go out and fire as hard as I can and it's like 83, I'm just going to walk off the mound and drive home."

He'll presumably have at least one rehab appearance, but there might be more. Diekman said that in his mind, one would be plenty.

"I told them I feel like I can throw one rehab outing and then be good," Diekman said. "That's what I told them. But I'm pretty firm on streamlining this thing."

Rangers beat

A.J. Griffin will start Saturday for Round Rock in his third rehab outing as he works his way back from a left intercostal strain.

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington.

Texas Rangers, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Robinson Chirinos, Jake Diekman