A trip to Japan helped Robinson Chirinos get to Houston.

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    WEST PALM BEACH http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-pat-neshek-jersey , Fla. (AP) — Texas declined its $4.5 million option on the catcher shortly before the 34-year-old traveled to Japan last November with a big league all-star team. He developed a friendship with the squad’s pitching coach, Houston’s Brent Strom. Less than a month later, the Astros agreed to a $5.75 million, one-year contract.“When I signed, he called me and he was saying, ‘I told you you were coming here,'” Chirinos said of Strom.During the Japan trip Lenny Dykstra Jersey , Chirinos liked the way Strom worked to improve pitchers who weren’t even on his major league team.“It showed a lot of the kind of person he is,” Chirinos said. “He cared about the pitchers.”Meanwhile, Strom relayed information about Chirinos’ character to his bosses.“Just the personality and the presence, not necessarily the catching,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.Catchers Brian McCann and Evan Gattis had left the Astros as free agents. Chirinos impressed against Houston last year, hitting three of his 18 home runs against the Astros.“He’s got a big swing. He likes hitting in our ballpark,” Hinch said. “I hope he likes hitting against the opponent in our ballpark as much he liked hitting against us.”Chirinos was 5 for 15 in spring training with one home run entering Tuesday. He has been focused on developing relationships with Houston’s pitchers.“I think his openness to listening is very impressive http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-pat-neshek-jersey ,” said Hinch, a former major league catcher. “I know it sounds like it should be common, but for someone who’s been in the league it’s easy to feel like you know everything and he gives off no impression that he knows everything, and I can appreciate that.”Chirinos has altered the way he sets up behind the plate and presents his target.“We demand a lot of our catchers in this organization with our pitching staff,” said pitcher Collin McHugh, who first played with Chirinos on that Japan tour. “He’s been really willing and eager to come and learn, come and listen Carlos Santana Jersey , and willing to get his feet wet.” Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesThe Colorado Rockies have not given up on retaining Carlos Gonzalez.Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Rockies are among the teams that have reached out to the veteran outfielder.Gonzalez, 33, spent the last decade in Colorado. He was a three-time All-Star and 2010 NL batting champion. Injuries somewhat derailed his trajectory; he's spent extensive time on the disabled list throughout his career.Gonzalez hit .276/.329/.467 with 16 home runs and 64 runs batted in last season. He bounced back to post a 1.7 WAR after an ugly -0.1 mark in 2017, perFanGraphs. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal for the 2018 season."Alot of people (were) counting me out six years ago," Gonzalez toldPatrick Saundersof theDenver Postin September. "I'm still showing up. I never think about it. I always think about the opportunity I have in front of me. Just being here is a tremendous opportunity for me."I try to take advantage every night. I try make my family proud. My fans, everybody who supports me every day and this franchise. I've been here for so long. I do it for everybody. That's all I think about."Wherever Gonzalez lands http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-pat-neshek-jersey , he'll likely have to be satisfied being part of a platoon at first. The Rockies tapered off his playing time later in the regular season, though he was a fixture in their postseason lineups. His age and mostly middling production of the last two years likely means he's going to have to settle for another short-term contract, whether it's in Colorado or elsewhere.