Pina swinging hot bat, excelling behind plate

Pina swinging hot bat, excelling behind plate

CINCINNATI -- Milwaukee left-hander Tommy Milone said his catcher, Manny Pina, has been demonstrating "magic fingers" during the first month of the season. Milone was referring to pitch-calling prowess, but Pina uses those fingers to bat as well.

The Brewers catcher belted a career high four hits Friday night, including two doubles, drove in two runs and scored two as the Brewers rolled to a 10-4 victory over Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

"We saw in Spring Training that this is a guy who can really hit," Milone said. "He's riding that hot bat right now."

"I looked up there and he's hitting .500, so he's doing all right," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Pina.

Pina is batting .478 (11-for-23) with four doubles. His two-run double in the fourth inning sliced a 3-0 deficit to 3-2. He led off the sixth with a single to left and later scored the tying run His one-out double to center in the seventh set the stage for four more Milwaukee runs.

Pina, who turns 30 in June, saw only 16 big league at-bats with Kansas City in 2011-12, and none with Seattle and Detroit in 2013, '14, and '15, before being traded to the Brewers in December 2015. He was called up in August when Milwaukee traded All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Texas.

His work behind the plate appears to be nearly as impressive, at least from a statistical standpoint. Brewers starters are 5-0 with Pina behind the plate, and the team has a 1.98 ERA with him catching (50 innings, 11 earned runs).

"I feel confident with him behind the plate," Milone said. "If it went bad tonight, it was my fault. You talk about a guy who is running with his opportunity. That's what he's doing."

His roster spot for 2017 wasn't assured until Andrew Susac began the season on the disabled list with trapezius tightness. The Brewers broke camp with Pina and Jett Bandy. Both have appeared in seven games so far, while Susac is on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"I am very pleased with how our catching as a group has performed overall," Counsell said. "They are doing a nice job on both sides of the ball. It's been a good mix. They both have done a good job in all areas."

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Brewers on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.