Chirinos Adapting Behind the Plate

DAYTONA BEACH — Robinson Chirinos has found himself in an unfamiliar place this year — behind the plate. Now in his ninth season with the Cubs, Chirinos has been managing his team while still managing to be successful in his game.

Chirinos, who was signed by the Cubs out of Venezuela at age 16 in July 2000, has hit .333 (7-for-21) in his last 10 games for Class High-A Daytona, and as the Cubs are finding out, Chirinos serves them well as a manager behind the plate.

"That's what I really always liked about him as a middle infielder," said Cubs Minor League Catching Coordinator Jody Davis.

"He made great decisions and was always thinking ahead in the games, and to put him behind the plate, well, you can see it for yourself. It takes awhile to learn how to call games, but he's always been kind of natural at that."

The Cubs' pitchers have a combined ERA of 3.06 with Chirinos and Mark Reed as their primary backstops. Chirinos said he has a newfound appreciation for the position after playing as a middle infielder for most of his professional career.

"You have to be in the game; you're like the second manager," said Chirinos. "I'm seeing a lot beyond the game because I'm the one catching the ball. It's been great so far, just trying to help the team."

Catching is a demanding position. The competition is fierce and the constant pressure of being involved in every play and managing each pitcher can weigh on a player's performance.

"I think the first thing you have to overcome is having the heart to go back there," said Davis, who was a catcher for the Cubs from 1981-87. "You have to want to compete back there, because it's pretty tough.

"But that's the kind of guy that Chirinos is."

Davis and Chirinos worked together during spring training on things including glove work, calling games, and throws to second.

"I work on throwing people out and staying consistent," Chirinos said. "One day is good, and then one day isn't so good. Just got to keep practicing and keep working."

A big part of catching is the relationship that one has to keep with the pitchers.

"For me, that's the big thing about catching," Chirinos said. "You have to be on the same page with the pitching."

Through 14 games this season, Chirinos has committed two errors and three passed balls. He has thrown out three of 18 base runners.

At the plate, he's gone 16-for-47 (.340) with four doubles, four triples and two home runs.

This is Davis' first visit to Daytona since leading the team to the Florida State League championship as manager in 2008, and Chirinos will have plenty of one-on-one time with the former Cubs catcher on the team's current homestand.

"I'm excited about Jody being here. This is his first time here, so I will be working with him (this series)," said Chirinos.

The change in positions may be just the thing to get Chirinos moved up in the organization, Davis said.

"We feel like he can do so much," said Davis. "We're trying to find that spot for him that can get him to the big leagues.

"He has enough arm (strength) and he battles enough at the plate to get a good look."

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