Chirinos' hard work starting to pay off at plate

Chirinos' hard work starting to pay off at plate

Chirinos' hard work starting to pay off at plate
ST. PETERSBURG -- Robinson Chirinos may have hit his first Major League home run Wednesday night, but his encore on Thursday afternoon took the cake.

Chirinos was at the heart of a thrilling, 7-6, 12-inning win over the Blue Jays, in which the Rays came back from a pair of deficits in extras. When it was all said and done, the rookie backstop had produced a tying single in the 11th and a walk-off knock with two outs in the 12th to add to his fast-growing resume.

It was just Wednesday that Chirinos hit his first big league dinger, in what was just his 12th game since his inaugural callup.

Wednesday night's performance brought to mind the bat the Rays witnessed during Spring Training, when Chirinos hit .429 (9-for-21) with two home runs, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. After beginning the season at Triple-A Durham, he now appears to be finding his way at the plate in the Major Leagues.

Chirinos and hitting coach Derek Shelton have worked on a few things during the past week to tweak Chirinos' swing.

"We've been working on getting ready and seeing the ball a little sooner," Chirinos said. "We've been doing it for the last week, so it was good to see some results last night."

Chirinos said a lot of hitting problems he's had can be traced to not being in hitting position at the right time. Now he says he's starting his move earlier, which gives him a "better chance to see the ball and have a better swing."

Chirinos and Shelton have looked at film from Spring Training.

"Just trying to get myself comfortable at the plate," Chirinos said. "And [Wednesday] I felt really comfortable."

Shelton noted that Spring Training is a "hard indicator" for assessing talent.

"Especially for guys who haven't been in the big leagues, because of when they play in games, there are a lot of fastballs early on," Shelton said. "I think there were a lot of things we saw in Spring Training that we liked. But he got off to a rough start to start the season at Triple-A. And then he'd been coming on, so I think we just continued on with what they've been talking about."

Shelton allowed that Chirinos is a good student.

"He's a good listener and I think he understands," Shelton said. "He's a good kid. For everything we've talked about, he's been very diligent and worked on it, he's worked very hard."