Chirinos transitions into mentor role with Rutschman

NEW YORK – Adley Rutschman sat at his locker this afternoon with his head bowed and his eyes fixed on a tablet. Robinson Chirinos approached Rutschman, his own tablet in hand, and said a few words to the rookie before they walked out the door for a pregame meeting.

Chirinos is no longer the starting catcher for the Orioles, but he's able to contribute on a nightly basis – whether he’s in the lineup or Rutschman’s ear.

“Robby’s a player, but he really could be a coach,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “His baseball intellect, he’s just so smart when it comes to the game and understands hitters and pitchers. A lot of valuable years, a lot of experience. So, to have Adley be able to work with him on a daily basis, talk to him, have his locker next to him, that’s really, really important. I know Adley’s very appreciative of Robby, as well. He’s got a good thing going there.”

Chirinos agreed to a deal in March worth a guaranteed $900,000 knowing that there would be a transition. Understanding how his role would change.

Perfectly aware that Rutschman wasn’t spending 2022 in the minors.

“I know when I signed there was a chance it was going to happen with Adley,” Chirinos said. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but he’s a good kid. Everybody likes him, everybody expected him to be here since spring training, and he made this team better, so just trying to do the best I can to guide him and lead him and help him get better here in the bigs.

“We were just talking about how we are going to attack the hitters today from the other team. It’s been good, he’s a good kid. He’s asking questions, so we need to help him and help the team.”

The Orioles didn’t reference Rutschman, baseball’s No. 1 prospect who made his debut on Saturday, as they negotiated a contract.

“My agent and I, we saw an opportunity to play every day," Chirinos said. "That was something I was looking for in the free agent market, and there was a good chance I was going to have games to play and that’s why we chose to come here.”

Chirinos caught Sunday and Monday, but he’s on the bench tonight. Rutschman will get the bulk of the work behind the plate, and maintain an approach inside the clubhouse and dugout that’s made him popular with the veterans.

“Just how humble he is,” Chirinos said when asked what stands out about Rutschman. “He’s the No. 1 prospect in the minor leagues … (but) he wants to get better. He’s asking questions. He came to me today asking how we attacked them in the past. He wants to learn.

“That’s the only thing you ask for a young player in the league, (be) willing to listen to people that have been here, that have done it before. He’s doing that and it’s cool to watch that.”

Hyde, in turn, appreciates what he’s seeing from Chirinos, who has lived up to his own hype.

“Robby is an ultimate team guy,” he said. “We knew that going in. This was his reputation, people he’s played for, we talked to. His ex-teammates, etc. And it’s known around the league how much of a pro Robby is and how supportive he is with everybody in our clubhouse. He’s the loudest guy in our dugout during games when he’s not playing, and even when he is playing. Just constantly supporting others, extremely positive.

“We knew once Adley got here that that was going to translate into working with Adley and talking to him whenever Adley needed anything. Robby’s just that type of person. He’s a wonderful human being and incredible teammate.”

The Orioles went into the offseason knowing the importance of bringing in a veteran mentor for Rutschman, making it a top priority over the winter. They had to find the right fit.

“Really happy with not just Robby, but all the catchers we brought in,” Hyde said. “I thought we did a great job in doing our homework on getting quality people behind the plate. So, the guys we had in major league camp, that was an incredible group of guys and a really good defensive group.”

Rutschman seems to be approaching his first game behind the plate at Yankee Stadium as if he’s back in Aberdeen. No signs of excitement, jitters, or anything outside the ordinary.

“I thought he was pretty nervous, probably, in Baltimore, rightfully so,” Hyde said. “You’re making your debut and there’s all the hype. I could tell he was a little bit anxious. But as I get to know him a little bit more and be around him, he’s a pretty relaxed guy. He’s pretty internal, always in a good mood. So, I don’t sense him having much anxiety about tonight.

“It’s obviously going to be a big deal, and I’m sure he’s going to have some nerves before the game, but I expect him to handle it well. He’s a mature kid. It’s really impressive how he handles everything.”

DJ LeMahieu was scratched from the Yankees lineup with a sore left wrist.

For the Yankees
Aaron Hicks CF
Aaron Judge RF
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Giancarlo Stanton DH
Gleyber Torres 2B
Miguel Andújar LF
Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS
Marwin Gonzalez 3B
Jose Trevino C

Jordan Montgomery LHP

O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Yankees
Orioles and Yankees lineups

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