McKenry Focused on Getting Better Today

BRADENTON — Last season was a struggle at the plate for catcher Michael McKenry. Over 58 games with the Pirates in 2011, McKenry, nicknamed “The Fort”, hit .222 with 17 runs, 12 doubles, two homers and 11 RBI.

But this offseason, McKenry has been working hard to improve his game at the plate.

After spending time in Spring Training with the Colorado Rockies in 2011, McKenry was traded to the Boston Red Sox before the Pirates acquired him last June. McKenry admitted that spending the 2011 season with three different teams, and learning three different pitching staffs weighed on him.

“I feel way more relaxed [now],” McKenry said on day four of spring training.  “Coming into camp and being with the team that hopefully you’re going to be with, instead of getting traded twice, trying to learn two different programs, then finally getting to a third and you stick. It was tough last year, just acclimating to everything. But it was a great learning experience. I just feel like I grew a lot.”

McKenry attributes those struggles to being more mental, then physical. He said the two things he wanted to improve upon this season was his hitting, and his mental aspect of the game.

“I spent a lot of time with [Mental conditioning coordinator] Bernie Holliday and just tried to learn the ins and outs of the mental game,” McKenry said. “I feel like I can really grow in that area –especially in the hitting side. Whenever I step into the box, to have that mentality, that I can compete with anybody, and just go out there and play hard.”

McKenry participated in the Fall Instuctional League over the offseason, and worked privately with Bucs Manager Clint Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie on his approach at the plate.

“It was simple,” McKenry said. “It was very, very simple. [Hurdle’s] very, very smart. [Hitting coach] Gregg Ritchie, same thing. I talked to him quite a bit this offseason. I just kept it simple. The ability’s there. I work my tail off. They just say, ‘Hey. Keep it simple. Get the barrel of the bat to the ball, and just have a good time.’”

“The biggest thing that we talked about was just looking out and trying to get the lineup turned over, looking out and seeing the situation and just trying to attack that.”

Heading into the season, McKenry looks to be the favorite as the Pirates second catcher, backing up Rod Barajas. McKenry hasn’t worked with A.J. Burnett, who the Pirates traded for on Sunday, but he did, however, catch lefty Erik Bedard’s first bullpen session on Sunday. McKenry said he was impressed by Bedard, and that he reminded him of a former Bucco who played seven seasons in Pittsburgh.

“He reminds me a lot of Paul [Maholm],” McKenry said. “I think he’s going to be a good competitor for us. He really showed out his first bullpen that I caught. He was right in the zone almost every pitch, down in the zone. I think they’re going to be great additions. And everybody else that they’ve added this offseason, remarkable people, good characters, and I think that is what this clubhouse is about.”

With just four days into spring training, McKenry already has some goals set for this season. But don’t think he’s going to look too far ahead. He’s focused on things one day at a time.

“Just getting better. A little bit better everyday. Not take anything for granted. Hurdle was talking about ‘just a mile marker’. Slowly drive through and let one day happen, then the next day, then the next day. It’s a long process. We can’t think about playoffs, or being over .500. We just got to think about today. So today, I just want to get a little bit better.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

McGehee Looking to Start Over After Nightmare Season

Next Story »

Lefty Prospect Locke Looking to Impress

  • mikez09

    I sure hope Bedard loos better then Maholm as camp goes on. Sure, i liked Maholm but, Bedard had traditionally thrown a lot harder then Maholm. I hope he hasn’t lost any velocity…..i’m probably reading waaaaaaay too much into McKenry’s statements…

  • dcProject

    Great piece on The Fort, Kristy! I doubt that you wrote it because I threw his name out when you asked on the ‘Day Three’ blog, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Looking forward to him spelling Barajas this season!

  • Kristy Robinson

    dcProject –I wrote down who everyone asked for, and I was just able to grab McKenry faster than the others. Thanks for the suggestion. 

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    1 day ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    3 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    5 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    7 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles