ANAHEIM, Calif. – Two nights ago, he was walking off the field in the second inning at Oakland after a scary moment, but Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos is back in the lineup tonight when the O's open a series at Angels Stadium. He will catch and bat seventh.
Chirinos was thrown a 92 mph fastball by A’s right-hander Daulton Jefferies, and the ball was high and tight. It hit his shoulder and then his face in the cheek area, and Chirinos had to leave the game.
But by the end of the game the team felt they had dodged a bullet – as Chirinos had barely dodged a direct blow to his face - and their starting catcher was going to be okay.
Chirinos wanted to play yesterday in Oakland, but manager Brandon Hyde wanted to hold him out. But he’s back in there tonight.
“I’m thankful to be back in the lineup today,” Chirinos said this afternoon in the Orioles clubhouse. “If you go back and look at that replay, maybe by an inch we would be having a different story today. So thank God protected me from that hit by pitch. It was a scary moment for me and my family.
“I got dizzy after the ball hit me. So the trainers were concerned about a concussion, so that’s why they took me out from the game. Thank God everything went away when I got back to the clubhouse. They checked me the next day and it was fine. So I’m happy to be back in the lineup and to go out and compete with my teammates tonight.”
Chirinos said he had never had a pitch make contact with his face before but he once had a ball hit his head during live BP in spring training.
This was close, as he said, to a very different result. He said he didn’t intend for his shoulder to help him from taking the full brunt of the pitch, but it did.
“Think it just happened that way. I don’t know how I got away to lift my shoulder and it kind of hit in my shoulder and then face, but thank God everything is in the past. Just thankful to be in the lineup and playing the game I love. Every time I have a chance to put on a uniform and go out and compete, I am thankful for that, so I’m excited.”
Said Hyde: “That was a really scary moment. We’re all extremely thankful that it wasn’t a lot worse. Because it could have been. … We’re excited to have him back.”
As for this weekend series, the Orioles will play for the first time since yesterday’s ejections of Trey Mancini and Hyde in Oakland. Mancini said he hoped his ejection might serve to help fire up the struggling O’s offense.
Hyde will gladly take some offensive production from that, if that is one sort of unintended result, but he’s also ready to move on.
“For me, it’s, turn the page," he said. "Tough things will happen during a baseball season and they do. I think there are times you do see teams feed off a player or coach getting emotional and getting excited out there and possibly getting ejected. That wasn’t my intent yesterday. I was trying to protect Trey a little bit. But we did swing the bats a bit better yesterday and I hope we carry it into this series.”
The Angels are off to a good start. They are 8-5, in first place and feature an offense averaging 5.0 runs per game with a team OPS of .756 – second in the American League. Their first three hitters tonight, against the O’s Bruce Zimmermann, will be Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Their career OPS numbers are .885 for Ohtani, 1.002 for Trout and .851 for Rendon.
Hyde was asked about Zimmermann facing that top three in the order tonight. Does he just try to pretend it’s just another hitter in the box, facing such accomplished batters?
“I think you take on the challenge. I think that’s what competitors do. You know you see those guys coming up, some of the best players in the game. I hope our guys take on that challenge as something that they want to face and I think our guys will approach it the right way."
The Orioles will get one of their coaches that has been out ill back tonight. Anthony Sanders rejoins the team and will coach at third base. Sanders is usually the first base coach, but the coach that is usually at third, Tony Mansolino, is still out. So José Hernandez will coach at first base tonight and bench coach Fredi González, who was at third base yesterday, returns to the dugout.