Jaramillo enjoys successful debut
Backup catcher gets hit in second big league at-bat
PITTSBURGH -- In the same way that Friday's rainout in Cincinnati cost Jeff Karstens the opportunity to make his season debut, it forced catcher Jason Jaramillo to spend a few more days on the bench before making his Major League debut.
The quick turnaround from Wednesday's night game to Thursday's afternoon affair gave manager John Russell incentive to rest starting backstop Ryan Doumit, who had played every inning in each of the team's first eight games. Consequently, Jaramillo finally got that long-awaited start.
Jaramillo had mixed results at the plate. He recorded his first Major League hit in his fourth-inning at-bat, but thwarted a run-scoring opportunity for the Pirates when he grounded into an rally-ending double play two frames later. And he certainly would have liked to have led starter Jeff Karstens to a win.
But even that couldn't dampen the thrill of making his first big league appearance.
"It felt good," Jaramillo said after the game, still wondering who had the ball from his first hit. "There's little butterflies at the beginning. I kind of settled down after the first inning, after it went well."
Though Jaramillo beat out Robinzon Diaz to win the job as the team's backup catcher, he will continue to see only minimal playing time because of Doumit's status on the team. After making 104 starts in 2008, Doumit has his eyes on making at least 140 this season.
Russell, a former backstop who knows a bit about catching himself, sees that goal as realistic and attainable.
"It's a taxing position, but I think he's more equipped this year, more prepared," Russell said. "He's in great shape. He's really worked on his flexibility, which really helps him. He's really dedicated this year, moreso than last year. He really wants to be out there every day."
Not only is Doumit, barring any injury, going to make the majority of the starts, but with no third catcher on the team, Jaramillo won't be used in pinch-hit situations unless the Pirates have exhausted every other option.
That leaves Jaramillo still learning how to adapt to staying sharp, both at the plate and in his work with the pitching staff, without the benefit of an everyday role. Jaramillo has been the primary catcher on every Minor League team he played on coming up through the Phillies' Minor League system.
"It's a different role for me," Jaramillo said. "[It's] just [doing] a lot of communicating with different players and catching bullpens and trying to stay loose. It's just one of those things I've got to learn."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.