Robinson Chirinos explains how he fits into Yankees catching puzzle

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Kristie Ackert, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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TAMPA — Robinson Chirinos did not sign with the Yankees to play in Scranton. The veteran receiver also was not here to be in an open competition to take Gary Sanchez’s job. In fact, he’s spent much of the first few days of camp talking with the embattled Yankees backstop.

So where does the catcher, who has a good relationship with Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole but is not on the 40-man roster, fit?

“That’s not what I have on my mind right now,” Chirinos said Monday after workouts.

The additions of the 36-year-old Chirinos certainly threw some intrigue into camp. Sanchez comes back off his worst career year and is battling to keep his job. Kyle Higashioka, after years of praise for his receiving skills in the minors, got his shot and ran with it at the end of last year’s pandemic-shortened season.

“I know those two guys are really good,” he added. “They’ve been here a long time. I’m coming into spring to show everybody I’m healthy, I’m good to help this team and let them choose and make a decision.”

Chirinos is also coming off a rough 2020 season. He hit .162 with one home run and 21 strikeouts in 74 at-bats with the Rangers and Mets. He has some power, hitting 52 homers over three seasons from 2017-19, but is better known as a good receiver. He has just 26 errors and 27 passed balls over nine years in the big leagues. Sanchez has 43 errors and 52 passed balls in six years in the majors.

His abilities behind the plate probably contributed to his good relationship with Cole, who made sure to shoutout his former Astros catcher in his first presser. With Chirinos behind the plate in 16 games, Cole had 2.46 ERA.

“We have a good relationship,” Chirinos said. “Back in 2019 we were able to be on the same page. Gerrit is a tough guy to catch. He likes to talk. He likes his catchers to pretty much be picking his brain, so he’s challenging. But he shared information, and the only thing you ask as a catcher is for pitchers to be open and communicate and try to be on the same page.

“That was ’19. We’ll see how this 2021 goes.”