PITTSBURGH -- One of the loudest cheers during introductions before Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game was for Pirates catcher Michael McKenry, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury on July 27.
McKenry had had several game-winning hits over the last two seasons. If that wasn't enough to win fans' hearts, how about the fact he stayed in the game and caught after knowing his knee was hurt because regular catcher Russell Martin was dealing with his own knee problem that day?
So when active and inactive players were introduced to the PNC Park crowd before the 6-2 victory over the Reds in the Wild Card Game, fans roared as McKenry hobbled to the first-base line to join his teammates.
"It was special, real special," McKenry said. "The crowd was great. They've embraced me and I've embraced them."
He was on the field with his catcher's mitt on during batting practice on Saturday's off-day of the NL Division Series with the Cardinals -- which is tied 1-1 heading into Sunday's Game 3 (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS) at PNC Park. In the days since Tuesday, MeKenry has been gradually squatting deeper, and is almost at the point where he can go into a full squat. He should be ready for next spring.
McKenry will still be moving a little gingerly when he'll be introduced on Sunday, but he's getting better. He's hoping the Pirates play well enough for him to hear his name called before two more series.
"If we make the World Series, I'm going to jog out there," McKenry said.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.