PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — The 2013 baseball season, at minimum, will be remembered as the one that ended a torturous streak of losing in Pittsburgh, and for backup catcher Michael McKenry, it will be remembered as the one in which the Pirates came into their own.
As part of his media tour while recovering from meniscus surgery, “The Fort” joined “Starkey, Miller and Mueller” (weekdays 2:00-6:00 P.M. on The Fan) to discuss the progress he has made since his left knee was hurt July 27.
“It’s been about six weeks, so I’m ready to kind of take the rehab to the next level, and start moving around on my own,” said McKenry, who added he will spent just a few more days on crutches.
He evaluated the Pirates’ pitching staff, which entered the weekend with the third-best team ERA (3.26) in the majors, and what can be done to bolster it.
Left-hander Jeff Locke is still trying to overcome a terrible second half that has seen him post an ERA over 6.00 in that span, along with a steadily increasing walk rate. Meanwhile, Charlie Morton will look to build upon his second-half consistency when he takes the rubber against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium Sunday.
“The number one thing I stay away from is anything that has to do with mechanics, or anything that has to do with the hitter. I want him to focus on the guy that’s catching. Jeff Locke is unbelievable at playing catch. As a catcher, we can take charge, and manipulate his delivery and release point by showing him targets,” McKenry explained. “It’s the same thing with Charlie Morton. You don’t want to make them over-think the game.”
Morton, known for pitching to contact effectively, has gone 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.30 WHIP since the All-Star Break.
“He’s always been good. He’s got, honestly, some of the best stuff on our staff. He’s learning who he is…how to use his sinker effectively to lefties, how to use his change-up, and when to use his change-up. He’s becoming a pitcher.”
McKenry shared stories about rookie starter Gerrit Cole, and his thoughts on whom he would start in a do-or-die playoff game if he were manager Clint Hurdle: