Hurdle weighs variety of factors regarding catchers

Hurdle weighs variety of factors regarding catchers

Hurdle weighs variety of factors regarding catchers
CHICAGO -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle takes many numbers into consideration when selecting the day's starting catcher.

As fans might have realized by now, Rod Barajas' .196 batting average isn't among the most important -- even if Hurdle went with Michael McKenry in Friday's series opener against the Cubs.

Hurdle was asked prior to Friday's game what he thinks about catcher's ERA, which is the pitcher's ERA when throwing to a particular catcher. Hurdle said he and the Pirates take it into consideration, along with numerous other statistics they deem to best depict how well a battery works together.

Hurdle said the organization pays attention to the length of innings, number of pitches per inning and, of course, doesn't completely disregard how "on" a guy's stuff is that particular day. One of the most important numbers is how efficiently the duo works in tough jams.

"When a runner reaches second base, what's the completion time of the inning, as far as pitches?" Hurdle said. "Different things along those lines you look at. But, no, I'm not a subscriber 100 percent to any of it. I just like to pay attention to it, because everything does tell a little bit of a story."

Hurdle, who sat Clint Barmes for a couple of games earlier this season when the shortstop was struggling, said Friday he has talked about doing the same with Barajas. But, Hurdle acknowledged, many Bucs pitchers enjoy working with the 12-year veteran.

Hurdle understands fans' frustration with Barajas' struggles at the plate, and gets why he is questioned for consistently playing Barajas. But he's going by the numbers -- just not the one fans would like.

"There's no perfect equation for all of it," Hurdle said. "But if you use your eyes and you rely on some numbers and pay attention in a common-sense kind of way, there are other things to read into it besides a catcher's batting average and who should play and when he should play."