06/01/2004 8:55 PM ET
Notes: McKay ready for call
Seldom-used catcher to play increased role
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- When you catch for the Cardinals, hitting is considered secondary. Work with the pitchers, then worry about swinging the bat.
|The Cardinals are 6-4 in games that Cody McKay has started this season. (James A. Finley/AP)
But Cody McKay's situation was unusual. Entering his last start, McKay was hitting in the double digits. But on Saturday against the Astros, McKay rapped out four hits and got that batting average up to a much more respectable -- if still not earth-shattering -- .179.
It was good timing for the lefty-swinging backstop, as he may be called on a little more often in the coming months than he has been thus far. Manager Tony La Russa noted that the hot summer in St. Louis will wear on starter Mike Matheny, necessitating a few more breaks for the workhorse.
McKay began the year as Jeff Suppan's personal catcher, but since then he has also caught Chris Carpenter and Woody Williams.
"Before June is over, he'll probably catch every one of the starters," said La Russa. "He's got three so far."
As far as La Russa is concerned, there are two numbers that matter with McKay: entering Tuesday's game, the Cardinals are 6-4 when he starts, and he's thrown out five of eight runners attempting to steal.
"He has a very quick release," said the manager. "Both our guys can throw guys out if our pitchers cooperate. Most bases are stolen on our pitchers. Our catchers, given a chance, will throw a guy out."
Not-so-secret advantage: Jim Leyland, who managed the Pirates for 11 years and worked with La Russa in Chicago, now serves as a Major League scout for the Cardinals based in Pittsburgh. It helps in a lot of ways to have a quality advance scout, of course. But it seems to be particularly beneficial when the Cards take on the Buccos. St. Louis has gone 19-6 at PNC Park since the stadium opened in 2001.
Is Leyland a part of that success?
"He's given us good information," said La Russa, "but it always comes down to execution. Still, if you could have a really quality scout in every ballpark...
"You put that combination with what [pitching coach Dave Duncan] does and [hitting coach Mitchell Page] does, you've got a lot of good information."
Leyland also serves as an instructor/consultant during Spring Training each year.
Makeup date announced: The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that a makeup date has been set for the game rained out at Busch Stadium last week. St. Louis and Pittsburgh will play a split doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 20. The makeup game will take place at 12:10 p.m. CT, followed by the regularly scheduled game at 7:10 p.m. CT. Both games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Net Midwest.
Baby 'Birds: Danny Haren had a career game for Triple-A Memphis on Monday in a 4-1 win over Albuquerque. Haren allowed one run and struck out 11 in seven innings, and also pitched in by hitting a double and a home run. Kevin Witt hit two home runs for the Redbirds. ... Jeremy Cook allowed one run in seven innings and John Nelson doubled twice as Double-A Tennessee beat Carolina, 5-2. ... Buddy Blair pitched six strong innings (two runs, seven hits, six strikeouts, one walk) for the victory in Class A Palm Beach's 3-2 win over Brevard County. Rayner Laya singled, walked and stole two bases, and Ben Rosenthal homered and drove in three runs. ... Brendan Ryan went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and Daric Barton reached base three times (Barton OBP update: .583), but Class A Peoria was drilled by Wisconsin, 18-7.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.