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Inbox: Should Chirinos step into full-time role?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

With Jonathan Lucroy's OPS under .700 and Robinson Chirinos raking at the plate with an OPS over .900, do you think an even timeshare -- if not a swap in roles -- is in the cards? Chirinos has been on fire and clearly the better hitter this year so far. Also, range factor says Chirinos has been slightly better defensively.
-- Chris L., Jacksonville, Texas

Chirinos has no doubt had a better first half than Lucroy, and it has resulted in increased playing time. What has to be weighed is how much of Chirinos' outstanding play can be attributed to the Rangers being judicious in how much they use him. That's a vital part of getting maximum production out of catchers, especially when a player has a history of injury.

With Jonathan Lucroy's OPS under .700 and Robinson Chirinos raking at the plate with an OPS over .900, do you think an even timeshare -- if not a swap in roles -- is in the cards? Chirinos has been on fire and clearly the better hitter this year so far. Also, range factor says Chirinos has been slightly better defensively.
-- Chris L., Jacksonville, Texas

Chirinos has no doubt had a better first half than Lucroy, and it has resulted in increased playing time. What has to be weighed is how much of Chirinos' outstanding play can be attributed to the Rangers being judicious in how much they use him. That's a vital part of getting maximum production out of catchers, especially when a player has a history of injury.

Why is Prince Fielder still on the roster and being paid? He can't fulfill his contractual obligation to play, so why must the Rangers keep him on payroll?
-- David B., Fulshear, Texas

Fielder has three years and $72 million left on his original nine-year contract. Some of that is being paid by the Tigers and some by insurance. The Rangers are responsible for the rest. During the season, he is on the 60-day disabled list and not on the 40-man roster. But Fielder does take a spot in the offseason.

Submit a question to the Rangers Inbox

What kind of plan do the Rangers have on Jurickson Profar? He may not get a shot in the big leagues unless someone is down this year. Should they try to trade him for a younger prospect?
-- Zilin C., Foshan, China

Yes. Profar is playing well at Triple-A Round Rock, so Texas ought to be able to get something for him and get him out from behind Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor.

Video: BOS@TEX: Profar plates a pair on a double

I've noticed we take an overwhelming amount of first-pitch strikes and start out behind in the count often. I understand the need to work the pitch count, but do you think being more aggressive on first-pitch strikes would be beneficial to the offense?
-- Jordan S., Arlington

The Rangers are batting .387 with an .804 slugging percentage when they put the first pitch in play. Both are the highest in the American League. But here is the strange thing. They are batting .236 with a .415 slugging percentage on every at-bat that starts out 1-0 in the count. Both are the second lowest in the AL. On every at-bat that begins 2-0, they are hitting .275 (eighth) with a .486 slugging percentage (ninth). They also have the second-most strikeouts when the at-bat begins with a 2-0 count.

So you are onto something about being more aggressive on the first pitch. But they also need to do a better job when they get the advantage of a hitters' count.

What is the status of right-handed pitcher Michael Matuella? Do you think he will have the stuff to live up to pundits' expectations of him? He was once touted as a possible No. 1 pick before Tommy John surgery.
-- Mark A. Frisco, Texas

Matuella, who had the surgery in April 2015 while at Duke, is currently at Class A Hickory, where he is 0-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 games. That's hardly unexpected. This guy went two years with almost no pitching. The Rangers will find out in 2018-19 what they have in Matuella.

My question concerns field specifications. Why aren't all fields the same dimensions? If a football player runs 10 yards, it's the same on all fields. If a basketball player shoots from the 3-point line, it's the same at each stadium. In baseball, a home run is not a home run at each park because fields aren't the same. Doesn't this actually skew who is a true home-run hitter?
-- Bob M., Garland, Texas

When baseball exploded in popularity in the 19th century, stadiums had to be shoehorned into whatever space could be found in the urban sprawl. That's how outfield dimensions became irregular and asymmetrical. It's going to remain that way unless you are advocating demolishing Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

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, Jonathan Lucroy