Buzz: Chirinos thankful for another chance

HOUSTON -- Robinson Chirinos is thankful for another chance to play in the big leagues.

Chirinos, who will make his Rangers debut at catcher in Sunday's series finale against the Houston Astros, will play in his first big league game since suffering a concussion on March 11, 2012 in spring training.

Chirinos took a foul ball off his catcher's mask and the initial diagnosis was he would only miss a few days. He ended up missing an entire season. He last played in a big league game with Tampa Bay in 2011, when he was up for 20 games with the Rays.

"It's a gift from God to be here," Chirinos said Saturday in the Rangers' clubhouse. "I'm so happy and thankful for this great opportunity."

Chirinos suffered the concussion last March and had retina surgery that caused more issues. He never lost faith that he would return, he said.

"From day one, I knew everything was going to be OK," Chirinos said. "There were hard moments."

He had played nine games this spring training before being traded to the Rangers for cash considerations on April 8. Chirinos has played in 23 games for Round Rock, batting .295 with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He's thrown out six of 12 runners attempting to steal against him.

Chirinos, 28, began his career with the Chicago Cubs as an infielder. The Cubs talked him into converting to catcher in 2009 and he was in the big leagues two years later with the Rays after Tampa Bay traded their ace, Matt Garza, to the Cubs.

"It was a good thing to be a catcher and have the chance to be here in the big leagues," Chirinos said. "They said If I catch I have a better chance to be a big league player, and they were not wrong."

Chirinos fills in behind Geovany Soto at catcher with starter A.J. Pierzynski out at least another nine days while on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle.

Chirinos obviously wasn't in spring training with the Rangers because the trade occurred after the regular season started. He said he's not worried about working with right-hander Nick Tepesch on Sunday or any of the Rangers' other pitchers.

"If we can talk and get with each other before the game tomorrow, then we're going to be on the same page," Chirinos said. "I'm pretty open to everybody and everybody has been open to me with what they have and what is the best pitch that they throw. They've made [it] easy for me."

Tepesch works out kinks: Tepesch said he's focused on his fastball command in between starts. He said he's been yanking some of his pitches, which has impacted his ability to spot them.

Tepesch has allowed 10 runs in 10⅔ innings in two May starts after going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in the first four starts of his career. He said Saturday that his confidence isn't shaken, and even if it was, he can't afford to show it on the mound.

"Any time you take the mound, you have to have confident," Tepesch said. "If I take the mound and I'm confident, it helps."

Maddux absent: Pitching coach Mike Maddux is missing Saturday's game with his daughter Makayla graduating from TCU. Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins assumes Maddux's duties for Saturday, and minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark joins the team for a day as bullpen coach.

Third base coach Gary Pettis is back with the club after missing Friday's game for his daughter Paige's graduation from the University of Arizona.

Ross closes in on record: Reliever Robbie Ross now has a 7-0 record after Friday's win, moving him one victory from tying the major league record for most career wins without a loss.

Ross trails only Clay Rapada, who was 8-0 from 2007-12 with the Cubs, Tigers, Rangers, Orioles and Yankees.

Ross had gone 49 appearances without a victory before Friday night after winning six games in his first 23 major league games as a rookie last season.