Chirinos slams way into record books

Cubs catching prospect connects twice with bases loaded

Robinson Chirinos is hitting .347 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 21 games this season. (Scott Jontes/

By Mason Kelley / Special to | May 31, 2009 5:25 PM

Robinson Chirinos stood at the plate in the seventh inning with the bases loaded. It was a familiar scene after the Daytona Cubs catcher parked a grand slam a few frames earlier.

The count was 3-1 and he took a pitch he felt was low. The umpire, however, called it a strike and the at-bat continued. That borderline call set the stage for a feat that's been accomplished just one other time in Florida State League history.

Chirinos sent the next pitch to the left-field seats, powering the Cubs to an 11-3 victory over the Sarasota Reds.

"You just never know," Cubs manager Buddy Bailey said of the 3-1 strike. "Sometimes it's to your good, sometimes it's not. Today it was to his good, for sure."

As Chirinos rounded the bases, he couldn't help but laugh.

"This is the biggest moment in my career," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy it right now."

The only other Florida State Leaguer to hit a pair of grand slams in the same game is Charles Reidell, who accomplished the feat for St. Petersburg on June 14, 1959. Chirinos joins Durham's Chris Richard -- who hit two against Louisville on May 15 -- as the only Minor Leaguers to do it this season.

"Since it's the first time in Florida State League history in 50 years, it tells you it's such a rarity," Bailey said. "For offensive players, people always talk about hitting for the cycle, but the percentages of this are a lot different than that and harder to do. A lot of the credit has to go to the teammates getting on base."

Chirinos, though, almost didn't get a chance to play Sunday.

Back on May 14 against Clearwater, the 24-year-old took a pitch off his left wrist and X-rays showed what appeared to be a broken bone.

"They had him in a cast and then they realized it was an old break," Bailey said.

When he took the field against the Reds, it was just his fourth game for the Cubs since coming off the disabled list.

Chirinos has hit safely in his last three games and is batting .347 with five homers and 21 RBIs through 21 contests. He said he didn't plan on slugging one grand slam, let alone two. He just wanted to hit the ball hard.

"That was a pretty good day," said Chirinos, who signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2000. "I'm happy to do it. It's amazing."

Asked what he planned to do to celebrate, he said he just wanted to get home to call his family back in Venezuela. His big day did leave his manager with something to consider if one of his players happens to accomplish the feat again.

See, Bailey prefers a handshake to a high-five and that second shake left the manager in a bit of pain.

"I might have to change what I do," he said. "I've got my hand in ice."

Mason Kelley is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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