It is 101 in the shade as game starts in St. Louis
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ST. LOUIS -- Even as the shadows crept closer and closer to the outfield walls Friday evening, the thermostat barely budged.
The temperature at first pitch Friday night was 101 degrees, the hottest this season for the start of a Pirates game. It might be a short-lived record because forecasts call for highs of 105 degrees Saturday and 103 degrees Sunday, according to the Weather Channel. And those games are scheduled to start at 2:15 p.m.
According to STATS Inc., the hottest game-time temperature for the Pirates in the past 25 years is 102 degrees, set Aug. 1, 1987, in, where else, St. Louis.
"It's one of those things where everyone knows it's hot, but once you get playing you kind of tend to forget about it," utilityman Josh Harrison said.
Harrison grew up in Cincinnati and is familiar with a Midwestern heat that is rarely forgiving.
"It just sticks on you," he said. "It's like it's not going away. There's no relief, no breeze anywhere.
"You can't ride with the windows down because there's nothing but hot air."
Despite the heat, the Pirates wore their black jersey tops, which they wear every Friday.
"Just thankful we're wearing gray the next two days," reliever Chris Resop said.
After fearing he might be destined for the disabled list, catcher Rod Barajas was glad to be back in the lineup Friday night. He bruised a bone in his left knee Monday in a home-plate collision with the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia and missed most of the four-game series.
Barajas started and batted seventh against the Cardinals.
"As a catcher, anytime there is any kind of injury to the knee, it's always worrisome," Barajas said.
But he is not completely healthy and could take some extra days off while he works through the injury.
"I still wake up sore, and that's something that's going to continue to happen with the bruise. ... It's definitely going to be a day-by-day thing," he said.
The Pirates kept catcher Eric Fryer on the 25-man roster, a sign they are handling Barajas' return cautiously.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Barajas could have been used in an "emergency situation" Thursday, the last game in Philadelphia.
"He's done a fantastic job of pushing himself aggressively but not over-aggressively," Hurdle said.
For two weeks after Major League Baseball's amateur draft, outfielder Barrett Barnes was bored.
It took less than one day for Barnes, whom the Pirates selected 45th overall in the compensation round, and the Pirates to agree to terms -- a $1 million signing bonus. But it took the Pirates a couple weeks to finalize the deal.
"I was sitting around playing video games, watching TV for a couple weeks," Barnes said. "Doing nothing."
He wanted to sign quickly and immediately begin working on his swing -- to get used to hitting pro pitching with a wooden bat.
He worried his time away from the game -- which ended up being a month and a half after the last game of Texas Tech's season -- might make him a little rusty.
"When you take time off of hitting, it's almost impossible to hit," he said.
His theory was shortly confirmed.
After officially signing June 15, Barnes was assigned to State College, where he started 0 for 10.
But it appears Barnes has found his rhythm. Since then, he is hitting .370, raising his season batting average to .270 with a .349 on-base percentage.
He has five RBIs and five stolen bases, which leads the team.
First Published June 30, 2012 12:07 am