Pirates Notebook: Could Doumit switch positions?


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MINNEAPOLIS -- It is difficult to imagine, given several pointed circumstances, that the Pirates have not discussed the possibility of moving Ryan Doumit from catcher to another position once he returns to the lineup.

When general manager Neal Huntington was asked yesterday if that were the case, this was his emailed reply: "While we are pleased with the production of Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz, our intention at this point in time is to return a healthy Ryan Doumit to our lineup as our catcher."

Huntington did not elaborate, nor acknowledge if there had been such a discussion.

Among those aforementioned circumstances:

• Jaramillo and Diaz have combined to bat .284 with two home runs 30 RBIs in 54 games. That is below Doumit's standard in terms of power, but it is just about the National League's overall norm at the position.

• Jaramillo and Diaz each has performed well defensively, especially Jaramillo.

• Doumit has experience in right field and at first base, though he was far better in right. His arm was a defensive weapon in his brief time there, and the ground he would have to cover would be highly limited because of Andrew McCutchen and Nyjer Morgan.

• If first baseman Adam LaRoche is traded, the Pirates have no obvious replacement. Steve Pearce has done better of late for Class AAA Indianapolis -- .277, 10 home runs -- but his offensive track record is no match for Doumit's.

• The Pirates just made a catcher, Tony Sanchez, their first-round draft pick. He is seen as advanced enough defensively to fast-track to Pittsburgh.

• This might be most important: If Doumit plays right field or first base, his chances of playing more often -- and staying healthier -- greatly improve. Given the Pirates' near-tragic dearth of power, that facet might trump all.

Be certain that Doumit would prefer to stay behind the plate. And that, based on his history at the other two positions, right field -- which he genuinely seemed to embrace at the time -- would be preferred to first base.

Doumit is expected back from rehabilitating his right thumb early next month.

Second-rounder signed

The Pirates signed their second-round draft pick, pitcher Brooks Pounders, to a bonus of $670,000, right at Major League Baseball's slot recommendation.

Pounders, 18, was 9-2 with a 1.96 ERA for Temecula High School in California. Huntington described the 6-foot-5 right-hander as having an above-average fastball, curve and changeup and projected he will "develop into a quality major league starting pitcher."

Pounders, lured away from a letter of intent with the University of Southern California, will be assigned to rookie-level Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League.

Seven picks have signed.

Buried treasure

• Left fielder Nyjer Morgan's misplay on a double by Minnesota's Nick Punto in the fifth inning yesterday -- he failed to pick up cleanly what he described as "a butter-ball" and allowed Punto an extra base -- marked the Pirates' first outfield error of 2009. They had been the only errorless team in that category in the majors.

• Morgan also lost a popup in the Teflon roof. "I don't want to see this place anymore," he said.

• Center fielder Andrew McCutchen used his blazing speed to make four fine running catches in the gaps.

• On June 30, the Pirates will celebrate the precise 100th anniversary of the opening of Forbes Field. Before the game against the Chicago Cubs, there will be a ceremony involving 15 who played there, including Bill Mazeroski, as well as current ushers and staffers who worked there.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com


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