04/29/09 1:01 PM ET
Jaramillo making seamless transition
Backup catcher has a starting role with Doumit sidelined
By Jeff Zampanti / Special to MLB.com
Pirates rookie catcher Jason Jaramillo has certainly made the most of his opportunity since being traded to Pittsburgh in the offseason, as he's been the team's everyday catcher since starter Ryan Doumit suffered a broken right wrist 10 days ago.
"You don't feel like he's only been out there a week," said Pittsburgh ace Paul Maholm of his new backstop. "It's been great throwing to him. He definitely takes his catching and calling a game seriously. He receives the ball well, too."
Jaramillo made the team out of Spring Training because of his strong defensive skills. However, the switch-hitter has shown plenty of promise at the plate by hitting safely in six of his last seven games and seven of nine games overall.
The 26-year-old ranks near the top among National League rookies in batting average (.345), slugging (.517) and on-base percentage (.424).
"I take tremendous pride in my defense and having a good rapport with my pitchers, but I don't feel like I'm an out [at the plate] by any means," Jaramillo said. "I feel like I'm an offensive asset, making strides to become a complete player."
Jaramillo put the Bucs ahead, 5-1, with a two-run double in an eventual 6-5 defeat against the Brewers on Tuesday. The Wisconsin native came to the plate in an interesting situation when Milwaukee starter David Bush plunked consecutive batters with two outs in the fifth inning.
If the back-to-back hit batsmen was a response to an incident in Monday's series opener when Bucs right-hander Jeff Karstens drilled Brewers slugger Ryan Braun with a first-pitch fastball, Jaramillo made them pay with a liner into the gap in right-center field.
Braun hinted at some sort of retaliation before the start of Tuesday's game. Bush hit Eric Hinske with an inside fastball and then literally untucked the jersey of Andy LaRoche with another pitch. Hinske exchanged words with Milwaukee catcher Jason Kendall, but nothing transpired in what eventually became a tight game.
"I wasn't even thinking about that," Jaramillo said. "I don't know [if it was retaliation]. I didn't feel that way. Even if it was, it benefited us."
The Brewers took out their frustration on the Pirates' bullpen, handing the unit the loss in each of the first two games. When the pitching staff struggles, Jaramillo also feels its pain.
"We don't feel too good as a ballclub, but we have to put it past us and be ready to roll [today]," Jaramillo said. "Over the course of 162 games, the bullpen is going to have days like this. It just so happens for us it was back-to-back games. It's extremely disappointing to lose any game. You just move on."
Jeff Zampanti is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.