ST. PETERSBURG -- Even with all of the new faces in the Rays clubhouse, the most popular guy could be Robinson Chirinos.
The catcher hasn't played in a game this season for Tampa Bay due to a concussion. He had been rehabbing with the Rays' Class A Advanced Charlotte affiliate and is watching the series against the Yankees before going on an instructional league assignment next week.
"I'm really excited to have that come," Chirinos said. "It's a blessing. It was a tough year, and being here around the guys -- I just thank God for giving me the opportunity again."
Chirinos said the rehabilitation process has been difficult and wouldn't wish it on anybody. He said at one point, he was questioning if he would play again, but doctors, family members and the Rays organization continued to encourage him along the way.
"When everything was getting back to normal, I realized everything was going to be fine," Chirinos said. "I've been doing the last month what I love -- swinging, running and being outside. I just thank God every day."
In the meantime, though, Chirinos will serve as the Rays' cheerleader from the dugout. He's planning on taking some batting practice and maybe taking part in a bullpen session before each game.