ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Chris Gimenez’s phone starting buzzing with messages from his new/old, teammates Thursday when it was learned he was headed back to the Twins in a trade with the Cubs for Bobby Wilson.
The catcher immediately caught up on what’s been going on since he left as a free agent following last season. But everyone is bummed out that he doesn’t know how to play dominoes, the new game of choice in the clubhouse.
“He’s going to be idly sitting by and trying to learn,” righthander Kyle Gibson said.
Gimenez, who was at Class AAA Iowa of the Cubs chain at the time of the deal, likely will be involved in nearly everything else that goes on behind the scenes, and the Twins couldn’t be more thrilled about that.
The final weeks of a season can be challenging for a team that has nothing on the line and is absorbing youthful mistakes on the field.
Gimenez will be comic relief to the clubhouse — there’s healing in laughter — while imparting wisdom when he can.
Maybe he will pitch in a game — as he did six times last season — although reinforcements have arrived from Class AAA Rochester. Whatever is needed. There’s a reason why he’s had two stints with Cleveland, two stints with Texas and now two stints with the Twins.
“Honestly, it’s really no different,” said Gimenez, 35. “I’m sure my job is to come in here and be goofy like I normally am. Make people laugh and help some of the younger guys out. We definitely have a little bit younger of a core. Some things have happened throughout the season that have made the team a little bit younger, which can not necessarily be a bad thing.
“Maybe at the beginning, it’s a little more tough love. I think the biggest thing is impart the experiences and knowledge I have and really try to take these guys under your wing and help somebody out.”
With Mitch Garver handling the bulk of the catching duties down the stretch, Gimenez — who has watched Garver a few times on television and has noticed an improvement — will help Willians Astudillo with backup duties. So he can impact the Twins on and off the field in a few ways as the final games of the season are played.
“I think Gimmy is going to be a really good voice to join Matty [Belisle] and join Joe [Mauer] and keep everyone focused these last 28 games,” Gibson said.
Gimenez played in only 12 games with the Cubs this season, batting .143 with one RBI. He’s spent most of the season at Iowa, where he batted .204 over 68 appearances. He played a little at first and third for the Iowa Cubs — and pitched once.
He spent enough time in the minors this season to wonder if it’s time for him to retire. His family spent the season at home in California, which was a challenge for him. And he’s trying to figure out if he’s the guy who will leave on his own terms or be dragged off the field.
“I always kind of had it dreamt up that I was going to have a chance to kind of like ride off into the sunset like David Ross,” Gimenez said of the popular Cubs backup who quit after the Cubs won the title in 2016. “Win the World Series and you’re just out. He’s like a cult hero in Chicago now and rightfully so. Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily happen like that for some people and I think that’s kind of been squashed and you try to make the best of it.
“I’d never wanted to be the guy that tried to hang around too long that nobody offered you a job where maybe it’s time to retire. As long as I feel like I’m not in that category, I feel like I’m doing the right thing.”
He’ll make a decision on his future a little later. For now, the Twins are offering him a job.
“He’s definitely high-end energy,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s going to be good for us, there’s no doubt about that.”