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White Sox catcher Hector Gimenez, 30, finds major leagues within reach

Hector Gimenez threw out 43 percent potential base-stealers last seasClass AAA Charlotte prides himself blocking balls dirt. | AP

Hector Gimenez threw out 43 percent of potential base-stealers last season at Class AAA Charlotte and prides himself on blocking balls in the dirt. | AP

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Updated: April 3, 2013 6:15AM



GOODYEAR, Ariz. — White Sox catcher Hector Gimenez is 30 years old and has played in all of 11 games in the major leagues, which begs the question: If he has been stuck in the minors all these years, what makes him good enough to be a major-leaguer now?

Gimenez should get a chance to prove he belongs. Pegged as the backup to Tyler Flowers, Gimenez looks like a good fit on the 25-man roster because he can switch-hit, has a strong throwing arm and can play the outfield in a pinch.

Because the Sox are light on left-handed hitting, Gimenez also fills a need. He caught left-hander Chris Sale’s 21/3 scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start Friday and was 3-for-3 with an RBI, giving him five hits in seven spring at-bats.

‘‘It’s a great opportunity I have here,’’ said Gimenez, who is taking nothing for granted when it comes to winning the job. (He has a wife and two kids in Venezuela, including one six weeks old, to feed.) ‘‘They’ve given me a chance to establish myself in the big leagues, which is something I’ve been looking for for years. Unfortunately, a couple of injuries separated me from the big leagues in the past. But I never gave up. I come to the United States
every year ready to work and to be the guy they need me to be.’’

Gimenez threw out 43 percent of potential base-stealers (22-for-51) at Class AAA Charlotte in 2012. He prides himself on his throwing and blocking balls in the dirt.

‘‘Game-calling is always something I look to learn every day,’’ he said. ‘‘I pay attention to guys with more experience than me. I think I can do a little of everything to help the team win.’’

‘‘He’s a little bit like [former Sox backup Ramon] Castro,’’ Sale said after his outing Friday. ‘‘He brings fun and energy and relaxation. When something isn’t quite going right, he says, ‘Hey, you’re good. Stay the course, and we’ll get this together.’ It’s always what you want in a catcher, and he works hard back there and knows what he’s doing.’’

Sale, ever the competitor, was jacked up, even though it was only a Cactus League game. Gimenez could sense that.

‘‘The first inning was kind of sporadic,’’ said Sale, who threw 39 of his 48 pitches for strikes. ‘‘Just felt like I was going a million miles per hour. Hector came out and said, ‘Slow it down.’ When I threw my offspeed stuff, it kind of slowed me down and got me back to where I was. Thanks to him, I was able to pull it out.”

Being negative isn’t in Gimenez’s makeup. He said he never considered giving up on his dream of
becoming a major-leaguer.

‘‘No, never,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not my thinking.’’

NOTES: Left-hander Chris Sale, the favorite to start on Opening Day over right-hander Jake Peavy, repeated he would be honored to get the nod.

‘‘I was a kid in the candy shop [watching] the last couple of Opening Days, so to actually be playing would mean the world to me,’’ he said.

Manager Robin Ventura again said he will wait to make that
announcement.

‘‘It’s not [Jake’s] call,’’ Ventura said, smiling. ‘‘Contrary to Jake, I’ll take care of it.’’

† Ventura said left-hander John Danks remains on target to make his spring debut Monday. Danks was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday but will do so Saturday instead.



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