BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates used eight catchers last season, an unusually long parade that was triggered major injuries to Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit. I asked GM Neal Huntington if there any lessons to be learned from the succession of backstops: “You can never prepare for the exception. Otherwise, you’re going to have 97 insurance policies. We had to adapt on the fly last year. When you lose three major league catchers in a short period of time, you’ve got to adapt on the fly. In a perfect world, you’ve got four guys who you’re comfortable bringing to the big league level. No team has four guys who you’re comfortable playing. You just don’t find a veteran catcher who’s willing to go to Triple-A and sit as a backup to be your fourth-string catcher. We got Rod Barajas. Michael McKenry and Jose Morales will split time (as the backup). We retained Eric Fryer, who can bounce around and play different positions. We’ll continue to explore if there’s something else out there.”
Barajas is busy learning the habits and preferences of each pitcher on the staff. It’s a lot to absorb. I asked him about the give-and-take process that a pitcher and catcher go through as they try to adjust to each other: “I always like working off them. I ask what they like — where they like me to set up, how early or how late, do they like seeing an early target? I’m here to adjust to what they like. At the same time, I’m not going to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable behind the plate. If something like that comes up, we’ll talk about it and try to find a happy medium. I’m here to work for them. That’s my job and my No. 1 priority.”
»»» A.J. Burnett’s speedboat — a sleek, muscular beauty — is parked behind the Pirate City complex this morning. Some of the players were joking that Daniel McCutchen was going to get it as payback for giving Burnett his uniform No. 34.
»»» Pitchers will begin throwing batting practice tomorrow. James McDonald, Brad Lincoln, Erik Bedard and Jo-Joe Reyes will be the first ones on the mounds. Burnett, Jeff Karstens and Kevin Correia will throw Saturday. They’ll throw two “innings” of about 15 pitches each, 35 pitches max. Charlie Morton is a little bit behind — he will throw a bullpen session Friday and another Sunday, and is scheduled to toss his first batting practice on Feb. 29.
»»» Gorkys Hernandez and Gustavo Nunez are in the house this morning. That leaves infielder Anderson Hernandez as the only player who hasn’t checked in yet.