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Injury to increase Chirinos' role for Venezuela

Rangers backstop should draw catching duties with Perez out for rest of WBC '17
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers backup Robinson Chirinos is likely to take over as the starting catcher for Team Venezuela after Salvador Perez had to drop out of the World Baseball Classic with a left knee injury.

Perez was injured in the ninth inning of an 11-10 victory Saturday over Italy on a collision at home plate. Chirinos is expected to start against Mexico on Sunday night after Perez started the first two games of the Classic.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers backup Robinson Chirinos is likely to take over as the starting catcher for Team Venezuela after Salvador Perez had to drop out of the World Baseball Classic with a left knee injury.

Perez was injured in the ninth inning of an 11-10 victory Saturday over Italy on a collision at home plate. Chirinos is expected to start against Mexico on Sunday night after Perez started the first two games of the Classic.

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The injury to Perez is unfortunate, but it does allow Chirinos to get playing time rather than going stale on the Venezuela bench. He played in just 57 games last season because of his own physical issues.

"After the time he missed last year, it's nice to get him engaged and get him some games," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It's significant for us."

Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is playing for Team USA. He started Game 2 against the Dominican Republic on Saturday after Buster Posey played Game 1 on Friday against Colombia.

Rangers beat
Drew Robinson started in center field for the Rangers on Sunday. It was his sixth game in center as opposed to six at second base this spring. He also played two games at shortstop last week as the Rangers continue to test his versatility.

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Banister said Robinson's best position is probably as a corner outfielder. What's impressive is he can also play in the infield. Banister said it's tougher for an outfielder to play the infield, as opposed to a natural infielder going into the outfield.

"The reaction time is quicker on the dirt," Banister said. "To be able to react on balls that quickly is pretty significant."

• Catcher Brett Nicholas has returned to Arizona to begin his rehabilitation program after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for torn medial meniscus in his left knee.

Yu Darvish pitches against the Giants on Monday in Surprise and Chi Chi Gonzalez pitches Tuesday against the D-backs in Scottsdale.

• Rangers hitters entered Sunday's games with a collective .287 on-base percentage. It was the lowest of any team in either Arizona or Florida. Their .351 slugging percentage was the second-lowest among all 30 teams.

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.

Texas Rangers, Robinson Chirinos