GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hector Gimenez’s ability to quickly detect an issue with a pitcher’s mechanics makes him believe he has a future as a coach.
But the White Sox catcher hasn’t yet reached the point where he’s ready to consider the next phase of his life.
Though he has appeared in 11 major league games after 10 professional seasons, Gimenez, 30, hasn’t abandoned his dream of a permanent spot on a big league roster. His persistence may finally pay off as Gimenez has a strong chance to make the club’s Opening Day roster. Gimenez -- who is 6-for-10 with two RBIs this spring -- is the top candidate to become Tyler Flowers’ backup.
“This is what I’m looking for,” Gimenez said. “It’s a good (opportunity). I’m pretty excited about it. But I know that I have to work hard and keep coming every day and learn every day and be prepared for whatever they need me to do.”
It’s rather apparent one skill Gimenez has mastered is interaction with pitchers. When asked about the veteran’s skillset, bench coach Mark Parent is quick to point out the catcher’s amiable nature. It’s one reason the White Sox have stated repeatedly since December they like the prospect of Gimenez as the club’s backup -- their pitchers like to throw to him.
“He likes to communicate with the pitchers a lot, working with them all the time,” Parent said. “He’s very personal.”
Chris Sale has already discovered just how personal Gimenez can be and is impressed with how quickly the catcher works.
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Last week, Sale and Gimenez worked together for the first time in a game situation. Sale, who said he worked too quickly in the first inning of his spring debut against the Cleveland Indians, credits Gimenez for slowing him down.
“He was seeing things,” Sale said. “We’re in the first inning of my first outing and he saw it and was like ‘Hey man, just calm it down.’ Right there says a lot for him and what he’s doing and how serious he takes this. To have someone working like that, you can’t ask for much more.”
Gimenez enjoys the camaraderie with pitchers.
He’s in his second season with the organization after he spent 2012 at Triple-A Charlotte and was promoted to the White Sox in September. Although he had caught most of the White Sox projected major league staff prior to this spring, another go-round has allowed Gimenez to feel more comfortable.
“I know what they like to do, how they do it,” Gimenez said. “It’s a good feeling. It makes things easier working with them every day. We get to know each other. I can kind of get to know the guys, make them feel more comfortable talking to them.”
He’s also relaxed about his chances of making the Sox roster.
Gimenez, who threw out 22-of-51 base stealers at Charlotte (43 percent) last season, has been here before.
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He broke camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. But only 10 days into the season, and after he had appeared in four games, Gimenez was felled by a knee injury and went on the disabled list. He was limited to 66 games at Double-A Chattanooga the rest of the season and didn’t return to the majors until the White Sox promoted him last September.
With his health no longer in question, Gimenez’s focus lies on learning his pitchers. He studies their motions closely so he can pick out a temporary glitch if one arises. He wants to understand their personalities so he knows when it's time to crack a joke or when to be serious.
He figures all of his hard work could lead to a successful coaching career.
But that’s a topic for a different day, one Gimenez hopes is a few years down the road.
“I pay attention to the things they are doing wrong mechanically,” Gimenez said. “I can do little things to help the pitchers get on track, maybe settle down, make them calm down and relax…I would like to keep teaching players so their career can be pretty good. But not yet. I still can play. Maybe in the future.”
Sale faces minor-leaguers
Chris Sale’s second turn fell on the White Sox day off. The left-hander threw 65 pitches in a four-inning game against White Sox minor-leaguers. Pitching coach Don Cooper described it as a “great day of work” for Sale.
Sale is schedule to pitch again Monday against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale.