ARLINGTON -- Rays catcher Chris Gimenez has been opening some eyes since being selected from Triple-A Durham on April 15.The team's backup catcher has appeared in five games, and he entered Friday night's matchup against the Rangers with a .313 average. During Wednesday night's win over the Angels, Gimenez threw out two attempted basestealers, which further endeared him to Rays manager Joe Maddon, who confessed that Gimenez was a better receiver than he initially had thought. "I always felt like I could be a decent player if I had a chance to play a little bit, because it's tough at any level not to play very often," Gimenez said. "Baseball's all about timing, having that feel and that rhythm. The repetition, the more you can keep that in that game situation, the better off you're going to be, especially at this level. "I hope I exceed expectations, because I didn't get that chance to really, at least in my eyes, show them [during Spring Training] what I really could do." Gimenez noted that the last time he was afforded any kind of semblance to regular play was in September, when he played for the Mariners. "When I came back from my injury, I played a little bit more, which was nice," Gimenez said. "I actually hit really well last September. I tried to carry that over into the offseason. Doing the same things I was doing. Basically doing the same thing during Spring Training and now into the first part of the season. It's been awesome." Maddon said Gimenez "has done a nice job." "He did OK during Spring Training," Maddon said. "He's actually done better, I think, here. Calls a good game, blocks well, thrown well. Actually, his at-bats have been better. He's actually swinging the bat better than he did during Spring Training. "And furthermore, we've talked about makeup and just the kind of guy that he is. He's kind of a tough guy. Not only has he won me over, I think he's won the players over also."
Allen enjoys moment in spotlight
ARLINGTON -- A day after hitting a walk-off home run to lead the Rays to a 4-3 win over the Angels, Brandon Allen was asked about his enjoyment of the moment."I've seen the highlight," Allen said. "Once you go to bed, it's time to go again, but the first 10 hours were good. You get all the text messages and whatnot. It's been fun." Allen's feat was all the more amazing considering that he had drawn a bases-loaded walk that helped the Rays win Wednesday night, and prior to that he had not had an at-bat in a game since April 7. "I've been working hard with these guys here," said Allen. "You just have to work at what you think will be successful. Stick to an approach and go in there and go after them." He laughed when a reporter noted that rest worked well for him. "I guess so." Allen said. The Rays have a loose clubhouse with players who like to have fun. Allen said he has enjoyed being a part of that atmosphere since joining the team Saturday. "Yeah, it's like you're an outcast if you don't have fun," Allen said. "It's been an enjoyable experience. Hopefully I can stay for a while. These guys know how to enjoy the game and go out there and win and have fun."
The Rays' first themed road trip of the year is the current trip to Texas that will be for three days only. With that in mind, they came up with the idea of a minimalist theme in which everybody packed only the essentials. Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked how it worked out when the team traveled after Thursday's game."I saw [Ben] Zobrist carrying a satchel, which was basically a pillow case, and I was very proud of him, actually," Maddon said. "Three-day trip there and back. No need to go all out with the $2,000 suit to impress anybody on the tarmac. Let's just go and play well, play hard and not worry about all the superfluous stuff that sometimes gets in the way." There is still no word about the Rays finalizing a deal to sign Hideki Matsui to a Minor League contract.
"I don't really know [anything about the deal]," Maddon said. "And the front office is very smart, because they don't tell me anything. And when I tell you this, I'm being very honest with you. I really don't know." With an 8-1 home record, the Rays are off to the best home start by an American League club since the 2003 Royals started 11-0. In the National League, the 2009 Dodgers started 13-0 and the 2003 Rockies started 8-1.
The Rays' record is the best in club history through nine home games. They have won 13 of their last 14 and 20 of their last 23 at home.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.