After slow start, Barajas finding his swing

After slow start, Barajas finding his swing

MIAMI -- When the Pirates signed Rod Barajas, they were expecting a veteran catcher who would work well with the pitching staff and provide some power to their lineup.

Barajas seems to have connected with Pirates pitchers, because the staff's 3.12 ERA is second best in the Majors. However, his offense got off to a slow start, batting just .143 in April.

"I think early on, my swing wasn't in a bad place," Barajas said. "A lot of balls that I'd hit, I would just miss a little bit, but I was putting some good at-bats together. But once you struggle, you start trying to find fixes and you start tinkering with things that you don't need to tinker with. That kind of made the struggles last a little longer."

But Barajas's bat has heated up some in May, thanks to putting in some extra work with manager Clint Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie.

"We've gotten a little routine," Barajas said. "For me, the big thing is my swing path and being able to stay through the ball. When things aren't going well, I'm rolling over or my bottom hand isn't guiding me in the right direction. We've really been working on my swing path to try and keep the barrel in the zone as long as possible and finish through the ball."

The new routine has already paid some early dividends. Heading into Tuesday's game, Barajas was batting .250 with three doubles and two homers over nine games in May.

"I think now we've found a solution with me keeping this routine to emphasize the swing path through the ball," Barajas said. "I think that will help me out through the rest of the season."

Swinging through the balls is part of what has made Barajas one of the most prolific homer-hitting catchers in baseball today. Since 2004, Barajas ranks sixth among catchers with 116 homers.

While he may not hit for much average, Barajas has hit for enough power that he ranks among star catchers like Victor Martinez, Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.

"I've come to accept the kind of hitter that I am," Barajas said. "I'm not going to hit for average and not going to hit a lot of ground balls. I am who I am. I've come to accept that at this age, things aren't just going to change. I just try to stay consistent with what I do well and really work on that. I think that's definitely helped me keep the power numbers up and be productive."