PITTSBURGH -- Mike McKenry didn't have a lot of time to build chemistry with the Pirates pitchers after he was acquired from Boston on June 12. The catcher, who'd had six games of Major League experience, started for the Bucs on June 13.

To begin working with the new pitching staff, McKenry did what he'd done each time he had to make a move, including fall leagues, winter leagues and a brief stint on Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.

"I just kept my mouth shut and my ears open," McKenry said. "I walked up to every guy and just tried to figure out what they wanted to do."

He has now started 17 games for the Pirates, and the team has gone 13-4 with McKenry behind the plate. Pirates pitchers have had an ERA of 3.23 in games he's started.

"He's been tremendous," starter Jeff Karstens said. "He calls a great game. He has an idea of what he wants to do."

McKenry played six games for the Rockies in 2010 and spent Spring Training with Colorado before being traded to Boston and playing in Pawtucket. He played 29 games with the PawSox before his trade to Pittsburgh.

"That's a lot," manager Clint Hurdle said of McKenry's moves. "The transition here was seamless. We've had one wild pitch since he's been behind the plate. No passed balls since he's been behind the plate. And the numbers weren't that way at the start of the month."

Bochy: Hurdle's view on McCutchen 'personal'

PITTSBURGH -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy met Clint Hurdle's criticism with some of his own on Tuesday, saying that the Pirates' manager was getting personal with his comments that Bochy and others "whiffed" by not including center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the National League All-Star squad.

Bochy also added that neither Hurdle, nor Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who has complained about Bochy choosing his own pitcher, Tim Lincecum, over Florida's Anibal Sanchez, called him last week to lobby for their players. Other managers, Bochy said, did reach out to him.

That was brought to Hurdle's attention on Wednesday and appeared to surprise Hurdle that such an expectation would exist.

"I don't think lobbying is a part of what you do in that position," said Hurdle, who managed the 2008 NL All-Star team. "He's earned that opportunity by winning the National League championship. I just have never lobbied and I never got any calls from any other managers lobbying the year I did it."


Hurdle also stood by his comments from Monday, apologizing only if those comments came across as disrespectful or hurtful to Bochy.

"I have the most professional respect for Boch," Hurdle said. "He's a better manager than I'll ever be. My feelings came from the heart. Diplomacy, I guess, wasn't at the top of my list that day, and I can understand that as well.

"I've been on the other end of that. I just know that I took it with a grain of salt and he felt he made the best decision for the National League because that's his job to represent. I wish the National League nothing but the most success that we go out and win the game.

"We've known each other back to when we were 16 years old. I can understand he's disappointed in what I had to say. I can deal with that."

In explaining why he chose New York outfielder Carlos Beltran over McCutchen, Bochy said that when he did his research last Friday that he felt Beltran had slightly better overall numbers.

"At that time, the guy I took had higher numbers -- better numbers on-base, extra-base hits. That's kind of what went into it," Bochy said. "It's not that you mean to snub anybody because [McCutchen] is a great player -- a great young player. If something happens, I'd do all I can to find a way to get him on the club."

There's a chance that Bochy might have that opportunity, depending on how Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun progresses from a left leg injury over the next few days. Braun, who was voted into the All-Star game as a starter, hasn't played since Saturday, when he was hurt breaking out of the batter's box.

An MRI has revealed inflammation of a tendon behind Braun's left knee, and Braun said if he is unable to return to the field this weekend that he would not play in the All-Star Game. McCutchen would be a natural choice to replace him.

Bucs decison-makers prep for Trade Deadline

PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington led a meeting on Wednesday in which manager Clint Hurdle and other key decision makers in the organization discussed the team's outlook approaching the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Part of the time was devoted to identifying when various players should be ready to come off the disabled list and determining how those moves would affect the current roster. With as many as eight injured players potentially being ready to return over the next month, the Pirates might be able to fill particular areas of need internally.

"It was very good to get that up on a board and see visually," Hurdle said of the exercise. "For us to sit down together and understand what each decision would mean, the corresponding moves that would take place, what fits, what doesn't fit. ... I think it was a good fact-finding day, a good information day."

The group also took time to identify external players that the Pirates will consider targeting if the team remains in contention closer to the non-waiver trading deadline. Hurdle said the organization will hold a follow-up meeting in a few days to revisit the information shared on Wednesday.

"We're going through the process with eyes wide open, ears wide open," Hurdle said. "We want to be committed to doing the right thing. There very well could be some irreversible decisions made along the way. Those are chances that you take because we want to push this forward with our ultimate goal being a World Championship organization. That's the exciting part of it. It really is."

Cedeno won't return until after All-Star break

PITTSBURGH -- Though Ronny Cedeno is eligible to come off the seven-day disabled list on Saturday, the Pirates do not plan on activating the shortstop until after the All-Star break. Cedeno has not resumed baseball activities since sustaining a concussion last Friday.

He was scheduled to undergo an ImPACT concussion test on Wednesday that, if he passes, would clear the way for Cedeno to begin some light exercises. Cedeno said the dizziness has subsided and that he hasn't had headaches since Sunday, when they were still severe.

By having Cedeno skip two games this weekend, he'll get an additional four days of rest during the All-Star break before the Pirates return to the field on July 15 in Houston. The Pirates could get as many as four players -- Cedeno, Jose Tabata, Joe Beimel and Pedro Alvarez -- back that day.

Tabata (left quad strain) was again out on the PNC Park field early on Wednesday to do some running and agility work. He continues to take swings, too, and said that he expects to go to high-A Bradenton for a rehab assignment at the start of next week. General manager Neal Huntington said it is too early to comment publicly on when and if Tabata will need some at-bats in the Minors.

Alvarez had a two-run single and walked twice in five plate appearances for Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday.

"I think the injury is in a much better place," manager Clint Hurdle said of Alvarez's right quad strain. "I can't say 100 percent, but I think he's close to that. Now we need to work on the volume of at-bats and get that right and get him competitive and get him feeling good about himself defensively and offensively."

Beimel was scheduled to make his second of four rehab appearances for Double-A Altoona on Wednesday. He has been on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation since May 28.

Bucs Bits

• The Pirates are 7-1 against Houston and 18-10 against the NL Central.

• With four games to go until the All-Star break, the Pirates need one win to clinch a winning record at the break. The last time the Bucs had a winning record at All-Star time was when they were 49-39 in 1992.

• Pirates Charities has partnered with the Heinz endowments to renovate a youth baseball field, Sanguigni Field in Brighton Heights, which is home to more than 300 baseball and softball players. Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl and others will attend a re-dedication ceremony at the field on Thursday.

The renovation includes the incorporation of green practices such as storm water management, a rain garden and a solar waste receptacle.