SURPRISE, Ariz. – Jorge Alfaro may be the future behind the plate for the Texas Rangers but the present isn’t looking so bad either.
While Alfaro gains experience in big-league camp with the Rangers this spring the veteran duo of Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Corporan are able to provide the club with a steadying force behind the plate.
The duo only has 325 total combined games in the major leagues between them but they’ve been around long enough to know what they’re supposed to give the Rangers this season.
"Carlos has been in the league five or six years and I had the opportunity to catch a lot last year," said Chirinos, who will be the team’s primary catcher. "Experience comes with playing time and the time you put into something. I don’t have a lot of games behind the plate but I’ve spent a time watching video and trying to watch everybody around the league. Hopefully we can do a great job for this pitching staff."
That’s been the focus for both of Texas backstops this spring – working with the pitchers. It’s been easier for Chirinos as he started 88 games for Texas last year on his way to winning the Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man Award.
His role went from backup catcher to opening the 2014 season to being the primary guy so he knows what to expect out of the pitchers on the staff.
"It’s been easier," Chirinos said. "When you know they guys and what they throw and what the ball’s doing when you call a pitch is a lot different and it makes our job easier to receive. I think that’s what Carlos is learning right now, what is their first pitch, what is their second-best pitch and trying to feel comfortable with everybody."
Corporan, 31, was acquired from Houston in late January for pitching prospect Akeem Bostick. While Corporan had an idea of what the Texas staff could do by seeing them so much in American League West play, there’s nothing more important than the hands-on experience he’s gained so far in Surprise.
"It’s never easy getting to know pitchers," said Corporan, who started 48 games for Houston last season. "Chirinos and I we have been sharing a lot of information, talking a lot. The fact that we speak the same language helps a lot. We communicate better and we’ve been communicating really well."
Corporan said the pitcher who’s surprised him most in camp is Yu Darvish. Corporan, who broke up a no-hit bid by Darvish in August of 2013, said the way Darvish prepares himself is something every pitcher needs to see.
While dealing with pitchers is priority No. 1, both Chirinos and Corporan can help the team in other ways too.
The career year for Chirinos in 2014 included 13 home runs and 40 RBI offensively as well as throwing out an AL-best 36.2 percent of baserunners.
Corporan established career high in runs, walks and extra-base hits in his 55 games played and hit .235 in his 170 at-bats. He had six homers and has 13 over the last two seasons in 361 at-bats. The Astros were also at their best in 2014 with Corporan catching, going 23-25 in his starts and 47-67 in the other games.
While the offensive pop is there Corporan knows what he and Chirinos are on the team for.
"There’s a lot of experience behind the plate and I think the pitchers will take advantage of that," he said. "It’s not like we just started catching yesterday. We’ve had long careers. There have been a lot of bullpens, a lot of knowledge, a lot of turning on the computer and doing our homework. The key for our staff is going to be the communication between us."