PITTSBURGH -- All season long, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has been somewhat limited strategically by having only two catchers on his roster. It meant either Rod Barajas or Michael McKenry had to be kept out of games -- no pinch-hitting or replacement by pinch-runner -- in case of injury. Now, however, Barajas and McKenry have been joined by a former No. 3 overall First-Year Player Draft selection at catcher. OK -- Jeff Clement isn't going to log much time behind the plate; really, no time at all barring a crisis. A series of leg injuries, most definitively microsurgery on his left knee in September 2010, have pretty much terminated his catching career.
But in an emergency, "Absolutely, I could do it. I'd be willing to do whatever they asked," said Clement, who made his first comeback start of 2012 in Sunday's game against the Brewers -- at first base, his adopted position. Until his July 31 trade to the Yankees, Casey McGehee, a guy who hasn't spent one instant behind the plate, was the Bucs' emergency catcher. So if a need arose, Clement would appear to be a more bona fide option. "I haven't yet been spoken to about that. But catching was my first love," said Clement, the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2005 Draft out of USC. "I've done it most of my career, although not at all this year. I don't even have any catching gloves, but I'm sure if the time came someone could lend me one." Sunday's start was the first in the big leagues for Clement since Aug. 20, 2010. Following his Friday recall from Triple-A Indianapolis, he made his season debut that night as a pinch-hitter, fanning in the ninth inning of the Pirates' 6-5 loss to Milwaukee.