DETROIT -- It's rare when a starting pitcher has his own personal catcher, but the Mariners are going that route with left-hander Erik Bedard. When he starts Friday night against the Yankees in New York, Jamie Burke will be the catcher. "If a pitcher is having success with a certain catcher, you definitely have to weigh that heavily," manager John McLaren said on Wednesday. "That doesn't lie. We have that situation with Burke and Bedard. It has been a good combination, so we're going to stick with it for awhile."
In four starts this season with Burke behind the plate, Bedard has allowed 17 hits, seven runs, eight walks, 25 strikeouts and has a 2-2 record. Furthermore, opposing hitters have a .168 batting average against the Bedard-Burke battery. And in three starts with Kenji Johjima catching him, Bedard has surrendered 15 hits, 11 runs, walked 12, struck out 12 and has a 1-0 record. Opponents have a .283 batting average against him when he pitches to Johjima. Bedard's best game of the season occurred on May 17 against the Padres at Safeco Field, where he went eight innings, surrendered two runs, struck out 10, walked one and worked exceedingly well with Burke. The Bedard-Burke tandem decision, divulged during McLaren's pregame media session, comes on the heels of the brief and ineffective outing Bedard had against the Rangers in Arlington in his last start. He was rocked for seven hits and six runs in a two-inning stint. Burke was the catcher in Wednesday night's game against the Tigers, and Johjima will start behind the plate in Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Tigers in a game right-hander Miguel Batista will start. While this is the first time in memory that the Mariners have gone with a specific pitcher-catcher tandem, it has been done other places. Greg Maddux hardly ever pitched to Javy Lopez, the Braves' first-string catcher, and regular Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, currently on the disabled list, usually gets the day off when Mike Mussina pitches. "You have to look at it two ways," McLaren said. "We're not going to switch everything around, but when there is an opportunity when certain pitchers are pitching and we can do it, we'll do it." That opportunity comes on Friday night in The Bronx.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.