PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle consciously wants to avoid any pitcher-catcher dependency issues -- well, with the obvious exception of the A.J. Burnett, Rod Barajas pairing. Otherwise, he makes it a point for all his pitchers to get comfortable with both of the team's catchers.
Thus, Michael McKenry was behind the plate on Thursday for Wandy Rodriguez, whose first two Pittsburgh starts had come with Barajas behind the plate.
Asked whether he had any concerns about the switch, Hurdle responded with a terse, "No."
McKenry was more verbose about looking forward to the assignment, but essentially said the same thing. He definitely knows about making in-season acquaintances with pitchers; in 2011, he passed through the Colorado and Boston organizations before finally landing with the Pirates in June.
"Last year, coming in here, I had to try to figure out a whole pitching staff, so I have had some experience with it," said McKenry.
"I'll sit down with Rod again before the game and get an idea of what [Rodriguez] likes to throw. And I've caught him in the bullpen," McKenry said. "But he's a veteran guy. He doesn't need much help. He knows what he wants to do, how to attack hitters. My job is to see what hitters are trying to do with him and make adjustments."
McKenry has emerged as the Bucs' offensive catcher. He is driving in a run every five at-bats, and his total of 28 RBIs in 141 at-bats are seven more than Barajas has accumulated in 230 at-bats. Nor does it hurt that the Pirates entered Thursday's game having won nine of McKenry's last 12 starts.