HOUSTON -- Not all of Wandy Rodriguez's former teammates will be taking bats to the lefty who makes his debut with the Pirates on Saturday night. One of them will again have his back -- shortstop Clint Barmes, who played behind Rodriguez last season, and will be there once more Saturday night.
Barmes is wild about the acquisition of Rodriguez, and may have been the first to bring up the fact the veteran has World Series experience. He pitched for the Astros in the 2005 Fall Classic, thus giving the Pirates three players (Rod Barajas, A.J. Burnett) with that background.
"I'm very excited to have him over here. He'll definitely help us," Barmes said. "In this situation, compared to where he'd been at, hopefully it'll be some motivation for him to get to that next level. He was part of that '05 team, so he got some taste of it. Definitely a big pick-up for us."
Rodriguez's first start for the Bucs, and against the 'Stros, has been viewed with a degree of pathos, with people focused on how weird it will be for him to pitch against the uniform he'd worn in his last start five days earlier. Barmes waved that off, instead pushing for another view: A chance at gamesmanship against friends, just like on the sandlot.
"It'll be like playing against ex-teammates has been for me. I always enjoy that," said Barmes, this season hitting a collective .283, with two homers and eight RBIs, against the Rockies and the Astros entering Friday's game. "It's definitely a different game [against former teammates]. I enjoy those challenges, going head-to-head with guys you've spent a lot of time with. I get excited about, and look forward to, those games. So I think it will all be exciting [Saturday]."