PITTSBURGH -- In addition to Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, catcher Rod Barajas has missed time after sustaining a bone bruise on his left knee against the Phillies last week.
Barajas hasn't played in five of the last six games. He was going to start Monday but was scratched prior to the first pitch, three days after going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the Pirates' series-opening win over the Cardinals.
In filling in for Barajas over the last week, Michael McKenry has exceeded expectations in the batter's box. The backup catcher was batting .455 (10-for-22) over his last six games entering Monday. He hit three home runs on his way to knocking in nine runs during the now-completed road trip.
Going into Monday's game, Pittsburgh's catchers are tied for third in the National League with 13 home runs.
"Isn't it great what the season can bring?" Bucs manager Clint Hurdle said. "We hadn't really done much behind the plate. As you continue to give men opportunities, and you give them reps, and they show up, they figure some things out."
While the production at the plate has surely pleased Pirates fans, what they might like to see now is more runners caught stealing. In 40 steal attempts, Barajas has cut down just two runners. McKenry has been better, throwing out four runners in 21 chances.
"We're doing what we feel we need to do to compete off the mound. The catchers are having to sacrifice some personal numbers in throwing people out due to that, but that hasn't presented a big complication yet," Hurdle said. "But those two guys behind the plate have given us very good support defensively and now offensively, as well.