Robinson Chirinos played the final five weeks of the season with a Grade 2 strain in his left hamstring — the same injury that took out Adrian Beltre for two weeks — that could slow the start of his off-season workouts.
An MRI late last week revealed the severity of the strain he first felt the final week of August during a four-game series at Anaheim. After missing a game Aug. 24, Chirinos played in 21 of the next 26 games, including two stretches of four straight.
That’s fairly rigorous work for a healthy catcher these days. He managed the injury, which typically takes four to six weeks to heal, by running cautiously.
Chirinos, though, had the blessing of manager Jeff Banister.
“I remember when it happened, I said to Banny, ‘The only way I’m going to be able to play is running super slow,’ ” Chirinos said. “He was like, ‘Great, if that’s what it takes to be on the field.’ ”
Chirinos said that squatting behind the plate wasn’t an issue.
“There were days when it was sore,” he said. “But it was more about hitting and running.”
Chirinos had the finest season of his career, posting career-highs in batting average (.255), home runs (17), on-base percentage (.360) and slugging percentage (.506) after opening the season as the backup to Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy was traded July 30 to Colorado, which on Saturday won the second National League wild card. Chirinos is under contract with the Rangers for 2018 and is hopeful he can finish his career with them.
Finale lineup moves
Banister held true to his word Sunday by giving fan favorite Beltre a chance to be saluted by Rangers fans, as the future Hall of Famer started as the designated hitter.
Beltre had been off since Wednesday following the Rangers being eliminated from postseason play. Banister, though, wanted to give Beltre a chance to hear from the fans one more time this season.
He collected his 3,000th career hit July 30.
Banister also maneuvered shortstop Elvis Andrus into the leadoff spot to get him as many at-bats as possible as he chased a second straight season with a .300 average. He needed a big day, though, and it became unreachable after he made outs in his first two at-bats.