Chirinos set for first start with Rangers

Chirinos set for first start with Rangers

HOUSTON -- Robinson Chirinos is expected to make his first start at catcher on Sunday for the Rangers, with Nick Tepesch on the mound. Chirinos was called up on Friday to be Texas' backup catcher when A.J.Pierzynski went on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle in his right rib cage. Geovany Soto started his fifth straight game on Saturday night.

"Soto has been back there regularly, so I want to give him a day off," manager Ron Washington said.

This will be Chirinos' first start in a Major League game since Aug. 16, 2011, when he was with the Rays. Chirinos started 15 games for Tampa Bay in '11 in his only time in the Major Leagues.

His career endured a major setback in 2012 when he suffered a concussion on March 11, the result of getting hit in the mask by a foul ball. He was out for two months and then underwent eye surgery that caused more issues. Chirinos eventually missed the entire season. The Rangers acquired him from the Rays on April 8, and now he is back in the big leagues.

"It's a gift," Chirinos said. "It's a gift from God to be here. I'm so thankful for this great opportunity."

Chirinos and Soto have been teammates before. They played together on the Arizona Cubs Rookie League team back in 2001. But Chirinos was an infielder and didn't switch to catching until '08 under the suggestion of one of his Minor League coaches.

"He said a catcher has a better chance to be in the big leagues," Chirinos said. "He wasn't wrong."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.