When Anthony Santander looked more closely at the black T-shirt Rougned Odor handed him in the clubhouse Friday, the Orioles outfielder belted out a laugh. The front of it featured a cartoon version of catcher Robinson Chirinos’ face with the words, “Robbie’s Playlist.”
And on the back are all of the sayings Chirinos so frequently yells from the dugout during games — a major part of Baltimore’s energy as it entered Friday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates a season-high three games over .500 and two games out of a wild-card spot. Santander went down the list, cracking up at all 12 of the sayings.
“He says them all the time: ‘Be estupid and hang it!’; ‘Feeling sexy today,’” Santander said, draping the shirt over his chair. “It’s amazing cause it keeps the energy up and it’s helpful to us stick together and try to win games.”
When Chirinos, 38, entered the clubhouse after a hitter’s meeting, donning his own likeness on his chest, he picked up an extra copy of the shirt and held it up. Each saying has a special circumstance . Some are straightforward — “base hit, ball four” — while others are more niche.
It’s part of a clubhouse and dugout environment full of energy, with Chirinos among the lightning rods.
“Everywhere I’ve been when there’s a winning atmosphere, there’s always a good dugout, a loud dugout, people messing with each other, trying to lift each other up,” said Chirinos, an 11-year veteran who’s spent time with six major league teams and reached the World Series with the Houston Astros in 2019. “All this does that. It makes people relax and be accountable and play together and enjoy the moment. The game is hard already. All this is just trying to make people relax and have fun.”
In the clubhouse Friday, Chirinos looked at the sayings on the back of the shirt with pride before going through all 12 to explain their meanings.
When a foul ball is hit into the dugout, Chirinos pays close attention to wherever it lands. “If it hits you,” Chirinos laughed, “that means you’re ugly.”
‘He said it’
If Chirinos is busy and one of his teammates says one of his lines before the veteran backstop can yell it, Chirinos snaps his finger and gives credit to whomever said it first. He mentioned outfielder Ryan McKenna in particular as a major dugout voice, often beating Chirinos to the punch.
‘Hey! Base hit, ball four!’
It’s a classic baseball adage, from little league to the Orioles’ dugout. When a batter faces a full count, Chirinos yells to remind him working a walk is as worthwhile as hitting a single.
‘You had your chance, you blew it!’
This one took Chirinos a second to ponder. When an Oriole reaches first base on a single, and a pitcher immediately attempts a pickoff throw, Chirinos gets up in a hurry.
“Like, why you throwing to first base?” Chirinos said. “You already had your chance” to record an out.
‘Hey, we got ice!’
Here’s another classic, a reminder to Orioles batters to not dive out of the way of an errant pitch when they can earn their team a free pass to first base.
“Most of the time, we say a bunch of stuff,” Chirinos said. “Cold water, ice it, all that stuff.”
‘Be estupid and hang it!’
Occasionally, when Chirinos takes a break from advising his own pitchers, he takes a moment to give some advice to the opponent on the mound. That’s when he yells for him to “be estupid and hang a slider.” Most of the time, his opponents avoid those words of counsel.
‘Feeling sexy today’
For Chirinos, this is an iteration of “Look good, play good,” with his own personal twist.
“Sometime when a guy is struggling, I say, ‘Hey, feeling sexy today, let’s go,’” Chirinos said. “Feel good, you know?”
‘Hey, how you hold that?’
Chirinos often has messages to pitchers. For one, it’s his job as a catcher. But he also likes to chirp.
If there’s a particularly poor pitch, either one bouncing well before the plate or flying well over the backstop’s head, Chirinos questions the grip that pitcher must be using.
‘Right on it’
“So many ways we use ‘Right on it,’” Chirinos said, struggling to find just a simple way to summarize a catch-all phrase. There could be a swing that resulted in a blast — or even a hard-hit foul ball — that prompts this saying. Other times, when a pitcher delivers a particularly good pitch, he’ll yell it out.
“We use it hitting and pitching,” Chirinos said.
‘Same seats, please!’
There’s no reason to mess with what’s working, so once the Orioles score a run, Chirinos sends out a plea to his teammates in the dugout: Stay in the same seats.
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“We high-five, right away, it’s like, ‘Same seats!” Chirinos said. “Keep it going.”
‘Open the gates’
Once one run crosses home, Chirinos isn’t satisfied. He wants to keep adding on, so he calls for his teammates to “open the gates” and let those runs come in.
‘Hey, you’re getting paid today’
Chirinos laughed before he explained the 12th and final saying on the black T-shirt. Early in the year, when Chirinos worked to “make the dugout fun,” he’d remind people of the fact that they’re getting paid to play a game.
“Normally, the starting pitchers don’t talk much,” Chirinos said. “I’m like, ‘Hey, you’re getting paid today. You’re not playing, but you’re getting paid. Say something.’”
It’s been the biggest change he’s seen from the beginning of the season to now, going from himself as the only player talking to an entire dugout full of noise. Santander said he’s never been in a dugout as lively in his career, and Chirinos, Odor and McKenna are the key voices.
“It’s been cool to see the growth,” Chirinos said, “of how the dugout is different.”
And it’s all spelled out on a T-shirt.