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Bucs backup catcher ready for debut

Bucs backup catcher ready for debut
CINCINNATI -- Jason Jaramillo knows his dream will be realized soon, very soon.

The Pirates' backup catcher is expected to make his major-league debut this weekend, and he's more than ready.

"You work so hard for so long to achieve your goal to be a Major League Baseball player," Jaramillo said. "Here I am. I just want to contribute."

Jaramillo has spent four seasons in the minor leagues -- all in the Phillies organization -- since he was drafted by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

Jaramillo was expected to get the nod today, but with Friday night's game being postponed due to rain, that could change. A start Sunday seems more likely.

Either way, he's anxious for his turn.

"It seems like it's been a long time," Jaramillo said. "It just seems like forever to me to reach my goal, and now, I'm here. I just want to make the best of it."

Jaramillo beat out Robinzon Diaz in spring training to win the job as Ryan Doumit's backup.

Diaz had an impressive spring, batting .423 with eight runs and five RBI. Jaramillo batted .227 with five RBI, but it was his fielding that made manager John Russell stick with him.

"Defense is a big part of his game," Russell said. "When you look at the numbers in spring training, obviously, Robinzon Diaz hit really well, but we need defense at that position being a backup.

"He's a student of the game. He's a very good receiver. He throws well."

Jaramillo credits his impressive defensive skills to the work he puts into that aspect of his game.

He's worked with each of the Pirates' pitchers to form comfortable relationships. He realizes the difficult job they have and strives to make it easier for them.

"I just really like working with pitchers and having a good rapport with them and making them feel at ease up there," Jaramillo said. "There's a lot to worry about. For some reason, I take pride in that. I like it.

"I like that control part of being a catcher, being a leader out there and taking charge. That's something that's always drawn me to my position."

Despite being one of the newest Pirates , Jaramillo, who was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for catcher Ronny Paulino this past December, says he feels at home in the Pirates' clubhouse. He said everyone has been helpful and welcoming.

He's particularly grateful for the wealth of knowledge and advice Doumit has offered.

"We talk a lot," Jaramillo said. "He's got a lot to offer. The main thing he tells me is to relax. I feel comfortable around him."

Russell, formerly a major-league catcher, had similar advice for Jaramillo.

"Just go get 'em," Russell said. "That's all you can do. He worked a hard time for this opportunity. He has a good head on his shoulders. I'm not gonna say he's not gonna have butterflies or be nervous. He should be. It's an exciting time for him.

"He's done a very good job for us, and I expect he'll do fine."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 12, 2009

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