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Mesoraco gets nod in Cingrani's starting debut

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CINCINNATI -- For Tony Cingrani's first big league start on Thursday vs. the Marlins, Devin Mesoraco started behind the plate the second straight day. For much of last season, Mesoraco would catch back-to-back days and be off three straight days while primary catcher Ryan Hanigan started.

So far this season, Mesoraco has mostly caught when Mike Leake pitched. While Cingrani is around in place of injured ace Johnny Cueto, could the old system be returning? Manager Dusty Baker would not say.

"Ideally, I'd like the catcher that can help us that night," Baker said on Thursday. "I don't like either one of them off two days or three days. Ideally, we'd like a [Cardinals All-Star] Yadier Molina. That's what you'd like. That's why he's the best there is in the game. You'd like an offensive catcher that can shut down the running game and block balls in the dirt. Who knows? We might still have that but we've got what we've got right now."

Mesoraco was 2-for-4 with two doubles on Wednesday and came in batting .267. Hanigan has gotten off to a slow start, batting .086 (3-for-35) in 11 games. Last week, Hanigan took a foul ball off of his left thumb, which Baker thinks might be affecting him.

"It's a good thing for him to be off two days," Baker said. "That's a tough injury when you hurt your thumb and you're catching with your left hand. You get balls running on you, sinking on you and you can't catch every ball perfectly. He's injured but not hurt. I talked to him about how to handle it offensively. I had three hand operations. It's tough when you're hands hurt. It's something you take for granted."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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