Barmes making impact despite lack of playing time

Barmes making impact despite lack of playing time

ATLANTA -- In Game No. 158, the Pirates rolled out something different: a double-play combination of shortstop Jordy Mercer and second baseman Clint Barmes.

With Neil Walker getting a post-clinching rest -- sitting out his first start since Aug. 20 -- Barmes made his third start of the season at second. He had last started there on June 21 -- the only other time he and Mercer teamed around the keystone.

But while they have rarely done it in-game, Barmes and Mercer have worked together all season. The former regular shortstop has turned over to Mercer more than his position -- he's given him his expertise and support.

"He's grown Jordy up," manager Clint Hurdle summarized.

Hurdle likened Barmes' supporting role to that served by Steve Kerr with the 1993-98 Chicago Bulls.

"He didn't get to play much, but he got to guard Michael Jordan in practice every day," Hurdle said. "Barmes hasn't gotten to play much, but he's tutoring Jordy every day, working with Walker every day. He's challenged those guys to get better."

So, Hurdle was asked, has he been Mercer's Mr. Miyagi?

"Good call," the manager said. "Except he's a little taller. But same haircut."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.