Chirinos Makes Impression On Rays





ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — When the Rays decided to put John Jaso on the disabled list coming out of the All-Star break, their first choice was to call up Jose Lobaton from Triple-A.

But three games and one start into replacing Jaso, Lobaton needed a replacement after spraining his left knee. That led the Rays to turn to catcher Robinson Chirinos, and by the time he was sent down a month later, he had definitely turned a few heads.

Chirinos showed why he was a key piece of the five-player package the Rays got from the Cubs in the January deal centered on Matt Garza.
Though his numbers showed definite room for improvement—he hit .218/.283/.309—Chirinos, a converted infielder, showed a sense for the game and the potential to be a contributor in the future.

"I thought he showed a really good aptitude for the game," manager Joe Maddon said. "He caught well, blocked the ball well, had some big hits for us (including the game- tying and -winning hit in an extra-inning game). The thing we need to get him to do is just work on release time. . . and also a little bit more consistent contact."

Chirinos was overwhelmed at how quickly he got to the big leagues with the Rays, given how long he worked with the Cubs to be in position for the opportunity. Originally signed out of Venezuela in 2000, he spent 10 years in the minor leagues with only 15 games above the Double-A level to show for it (with Triple-A Iowa in 2010).

But Chirinos, who was converted from middle infielder to catcher during the 2008 season, showed if nothing else he is a survivor. He made a strong impression on the Rays with a dazzling spring training showing, and after a slow start with Triple-A Durham he picked it up and by late August was hitting .269/.351/.392 with six homers and 24 RBIs.

COOL RAYS

• Righthander Chris Archer got an unexpected early homecoming when he was promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham. He made his first start in Durham on Aug. 27, about 40 miles northeast of his hometown of Clayton, N.C.

• Outfielder Mikie Mahtook, the Rays' second pick in the 2011 draft, will get to make his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League. Infielder Tyler Goeddel was expected to get a few games in at the end of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League season, and the other two top picks, righthander Tyler Guerrieri and lefthander Grayson Garvin, will get on the field in instructional league.