OAKLAND, Calif. — Chris Gimenez was happy to be back at the O.co Coliseum on Saturday, happy to be back with the Rays, happy to be back at an A’s game with his mom and dad.
It’s been a while for both.
Gimenez was placed on the taxi squad Saturday along with Luke Scott, Delmon Young and Josh Lueke. All four will be added to the roster today, the first day rosters can expand from 25 to 40.
“I just hope I can come up here and fit right in and kind of keep it going,” Gimenez said. “If not make somebody laugh. I’ll be down at the end of the bench if Joe (Maddon) wants me. I’m good at making a few people laugh every once in a while. Team morale, that’s what I’m here for.”
Gimenez was allowed to take batting practice Saturday but could not watch the game from the dugout. So he decided to watch the game from the stands with his folks, Pam and Paul.
Gimenez, who grew up about 60 minutes away in Gilroy, said he hasn’t been to an A’s game with his parents since the Bash Brother days in the 1990s.
“Gosh, it’s been a really long time,” Gimenez said. “After you get a certain age you’re playing travel ball.”
Gimenez, who played 42 games with the Rays last season, played well enough this spring to earn the second catching job with Jose Molina. But Gimenez had one option remaining, and Jose Lobaton didn’t, so Lobaton made the Opening Day roster.
Gimenez went back to Triple-A Durham, expecting to get called back to the Rays at some point this season.
Molina and Lobaton stayed healthy, and Lobaton made improvements in his game both behind the plate and with the bat.
So Gimenez remained at Durham. And got hurt.
He tore the sheath around the tendons in his left hand while swinging the bat, an injury that lingered long after Gimenez came off the disabled list.
“It just hasn’t been right,” he said. “It’s been, honestly, a struggle to hit. For so long, your hand is used to being in a certain spot, and when you get it there you feel like you’re getting stabbed. It’s not a fun feeling.”
Gimenez played in 94 games for Durham. He hit .224 with three home runs and 22 RBIs.
“I feel it every once in a while,” Gimenez said of the injury. “I get a zinger every once in a while. This last month to month-and-a-half has been considerably different for me. I started to get my swing back again, and I had more consistent at-bats. I started to hit the ball harder, and those are things I look to as good indicators of where I need to be.”
Maddon said he doesn’t anticipate Gimenez getting many starts this month. Gimenez’s presence will allow Maddon to pinch hit or pinch run more for Molina and Lobaton in later innings, knowing he has a third option at catcher.
Gimenez said he’s fine with that. He’s more than happy to offer high-fives to his teammates and advice to Maddon from his seat in the dugout.
“I was the best bench coach in the International League this year,” Gimenez said. “(Bulls) Charlie (Montoyo) won Manager of the Year and I told him it was three-quarters because of my bench coaching skills. I told him I would give him a quarter of that.”