Thrown helmet led to Pirates benching catcher last week in Milwaukee
September 2, 2009 5:45 AM
The Pirates benched catcher Ryan Doumit last week.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Neither catcher Ryan Doumit nor anyone associated with the Pirates has addressed his benching last weekend in Milwaukee.
But someone finally has.
One of Doumit's agents, Matt Sosnick, last night strongly rejected charges made in some published reports that Doumit has been pouting about the team's recent trades, has not giving his best on the field or might want out of Pittsburgh.
"In reading a couple things, there's a lot being said about Ryan dogging it or not playing as hard as he could. Ryan's shocked about that," Sosnick said from Cincinnati, where he had dinner with Doumit after the game last night. "He's also shocked that there are people saying he isn't happy playing in Pittsburgh or that he's gone into some shell. It is true that a lot of his closest friends on the team got traded. But he understands it's a business. He'd be the first to tell you he makes as much money in a year as he'd hoped to make in his life."
Doumit is in the first year of a three-year extension that guarantees $11.5 million.
"He likes being in Pittsburgh," Sosnick continued. "It's tough not being competitive this year, and he takes that kind of stuff very personally. But he came back from an injury probably before he should have."
Doumit missed 2 1/2 months to a fractured wrist. He has batted .212 since returning July 9, and his overall average is .215, with eight home runs and 26 RBIs.
"He came back because he's very competitive," Sosnick said. "And the fact that his average has gone down, that he's not playing up to his standards, is what's bothered him the most by far. But there's no correlation between his numbers and his effort. He's not dogging anything. He cares a lot. When he goes 0 for 4, he wears it more than anyone else does. And the combination of not being successful, of being hurt and now having people question his work ethic, I think it's ticked him off. But, more than anything, it's really hurt his feelings."
And what of Doumit's relationship with manager John Russell after the benching?
"He absolutely loves his manager," Sosnick said. "Look, he's had a tough year. If people want to write that he's pouting or isolating himself or not giving as much of an effort, that's nonsense. I don't think that's reasonable."
Sosnick, who along with Paul Cobbe has represented Doumit for years, was asked why he was speaking for Doumit rather than Doumit, who has a history of being vocal on many matters.
"He really didn't want to get caught up in responding to something that's just so farcical, or giving any credibility to it. But I feel like people should know that Ryan Doumit's not the kind to not care or not hustle. People who know Ryan Doumit know that."
No one has spoken on the record about what got Doumit benched, but two sources have confirmed that this was how it played out Friday night at Miller Park...
Doumit had just flied out in the fifth inning to go 0 for 3, and he was upset that he had missed a good pitch to hit earlier in the at-bat. Upon returning to the dugout, he slammed his helmet to the ground, and it bounced up and struck shortstop Luis Cruz in the head. Cruz already had been hit in the head by a line drive in batting practice.
Bench coach Gary Varsho admonished Doumit on the spot, and Russell took Doumit out of the game before the bottom half of that inning.
There also was a buildup over recent weeks, according to one of the sources, over some on the coaching staff being upset with Doumit. Thus, the incident was not seen as isolated.