Saturday was a special day for Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos. He reached 10 years of Major League service time, something that fewer than 10 percent of all MLB players have ever achieved.
He's a player that's worked hard for everything he's ever gotten. He played 10 seasons in the minors before his first call to the big leagues. Once he got there for the first time in 2011, he stuck around for a while and is still going at it.
He admitted yesterday there is a chance this will be his final season, but that decision has not been made yet. For now, he said he is enjoying baseball as much as ever. He’s loved being an Oriole, and manager Brandon Hyde said Saturday his impact on this team this year has been vast.
“That is an awesome, awesome accomplishment for a major league player," he said before the game. "Congratulations to Robbie. That is a huge deal to players to get that milestone. We’re going to celebrate that with him today.
“I had talked to people about what kind of teammate and person he was. But he has exceeded those lofty expectations in how much he has impacted our team, our clubhouse, our dugout. He makes players around him better. He’s made our whole clubhouse better. He’s helped change the culture of our team. And I can’t thank him enough for that,” said Hyde.
Chirinos said he was blessed to reach the 10-year milestone to become fully vested in the MLB Players Association.
“The belief that I was a big league player, even in year seven when I went behind the plate and learned a new position. I always thought God had given me the ability to be a big league player and now I know he did,” Chirinos said when asked what kept him going all those years he was in the minors.
And yes, Chirinos signed as an infielder and didn’t catch in the pros for the first time until 2008.
He has played in 705 MLB games (1,048 on the farm) across his 11-year big league career, during which he has played for the Tampa Bay Rays (2011), Texas Rangers (2013-18, 2020), Houston Astros (2019), New York Mets (2020), Chicago Cubs (2021) and the Orioles (2022-present).
He originally signed with the Chicago Cubs as an international free agent on July 2, 2000, and spent 10 seasons in the Cubs’ system before he was traded to Tampa Bay on Jan. 8, 2011 in the eight-player deal that sent right-handed pitcher Matt Garza to Chicago. He made his MLB debut on July 18, 2011 at 27 years old.
I asked him about any personal milestones that came to mind at the arrival of his 10-year service time mark.
“I mean, I have so many. Since my debut in Tampa in 2011 where my dream came true to be a big league player. So much to be thankful for. Texas gave me the chance to play every day. So many, if I start naming teams and memories, I think every year and every team has a different place in my heart for sure," he said.
And he’s been making memories as an Oriole, too.
“Since the first day of spring training it has been fun. We’ve been growing together and it’s cool to see what we are doing here now,” he said.
What will the future hold for him? Does he want to keep playing beyond 2022? Could he remain with the Orioles?
“I don’t know. Something to consider after the season. My body feels good. If you ask me today, I want to play one more year, but we’ll see. See how the offseason and free agency goes.
“I would love to come back here. I would love to come back and keep growing with this team and hopefully win a World Series. We have a chance this year. Next week is a big week facing the Blue Jays. We have 10 more games with them. I’m excited and blessed to be here. If the organization wanted to bring me back next year, I would be here for sure," he said.
Chirinos said Saturday was a very meaningful day in his native Venezuela.
“Means a lot. I know back home I talked to my mom and dad today. They are going out to celebrate today. I told them this is also their achievement. My dad introduced baseball to me when I was 5 years old. My mom took me for so many practices and games when my dad was working. My brothers were there for me. My family and people back home are happy for me and celebrating with me for sure,” said Chirinos.
The Orioles had a clubhouse celebration before last night's game for Chirinos and his career milestone. Click here to see what they posted via Twitter.