ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington insists that he's following his rotation at catcher and that's why Robinson Chirinos gets his first opportunity to catch ace Yu Darvish from the start of a game tonight.
But the skipper wouldn't be putting Chirinos behind the plate if he wasn't convinced that the young catcher can help navigate Darvish through the Seattle Mariners lineup. The reality is that Darvish will call his own game and has a specific plan. But that doesn't mean just anyone can catch him. Darvish has to feel comfortable and trust that the guy catching can handle all of his pitches. Washington believes that won't be an issue for Chirinos or Darvish.
"That's the way it fell," Washington said when asked why Chirinos was catching. "I usually give [Robinson] a couple of back-to-back games. I've given J.P. [Arencibia] a couple of back-to-back games. [Robinson] hasn't had back-to-back games since Boston. So this is his back-to-back games."
Washington said he's been impressed with how Chirinos has "been receiving and his energy" and expects the same thing tonight. Chirinos caught Darvish for an inning Friday and has caught him in spring training.
"He'll be fine," Washington said. "Darvish does his homework, and Chirinos will be up in his pocket doing it with him. They'll be on the same page. And if he puts something down that Darvish doesn't want, all he's got to do is shake."
The Rangers haven't had much offense from the catching position this season -- a total of six hits between Chirinos and Arencibia -- for a .128 average, last in the American League. The .430 OPS is also last. But Washington isn't worried about that.
"I'm not expecting offense out of my catchers," Washington said. "I want them to get my pitchers through innings. Whatever I get offensively, I get."