Pirates Notebook: Doumit 'shocked' by switch

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ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' acquisition of catcher Chris Snyder from Arizona pushed Ryan Doumit into a backup role.

And to right field.

And to first base.

Doumit, the Pirates' mainstay behind the plate since taking over for Ronny Paulino to open the 2008 season, was told Saturday -- first by a morning phone call from manager John Russell, then again in a meeting at Busch Stadium -- that he no longer will have that role. Rather, he will share duty in right field with Lastings Milledge, see occasional duty at first base when Garrett Jones is spelled and, to an unknown extent, back up Snyder.

Actually, all of it sounded quite vague.

"It won't be a platoon behind home plate, it won't be a platoon in the outfield," Huntington said. "JR will be able to plug guys in ... with matchups. It's going to be a pretty interesting dynamic for JR to mix and match as he sees fit."

In addition to the "split" in right with Milledge, Huntington mentioned that Milledge also could move to left when Jose Tabata is spelled.

"It's going to be a challenge," Russell said. "But we value Ryan's bat, and it's going to be up to me to find a way to get him out there. And the same goes for Lastings."

Huntington added that, while Snyder and Doumit will be "our two catchers," the Pirates still expect to carry a third when Doumit -- still out with a concussion -- returns from the disabled list Aug. 6 "so we can pinch-run for either guy."

That would appear to suggest Erik Kratz, the current starting catcher, will stay.

Doumit was predictably displeased.

"I was shocked, obviously," he recalled of hearing about the trade. "I didn't know how to interpret it. He's a starting-catcher-type guy. I'm a starting-catcher-type guy. I didn't know what to think of it. You know, obviously, I want to play. I want to play every day. I think I'm an everyday major leaguer and ... I don't know. I'm still kind of taken aback by it."

Doumit is batting .258 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs and has struggled defensively.

Hanrahan or Meek?

Russell needs a closer in the wake of Octavio Dotel's trade, but he would say only that he will choose from Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek, both having outstanding seasons. And he might not choose definitively right away.

"We've obviously got two very good options down there," Russell said. "We'll see."

Hanrahan would appear to have the edge, partly because he once closed for Washington, partly because he has been outright dominant for a while, scored upon just twice in his past 21 appearances.

A comparison: Hanrahan has a 3.35 ERA, .193 opponents' batting average and an exceptional 63 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings. Meek, the team's lone All-Star, has a 1.23 ERA, a .172 opponents' average and 49 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings.

Dotel issued a no-hesitation vote on his way out: "Hanrahan is the guy who's got to have my job. Nothing against Meek. He's got great stuff. But the way I see things, and, from being in the bullpen, Hanrahan is the guy."

Hanrahan shrugged it off.

"Every reliever's goal, ultimately, is to be a closer," he said. "I'm not sure what they're going to do, but, if they give the opportunity, I'd love to take it."

Buried treasure

• The Pirates recalled shortstop Argenis Diaz and first baseman Jeff Clement from Class AAA Indianapolis to fill the roster in the wake of the three trades. Neither is expected to play much, and Clement might only be holding a spot until Doumit's return.

• Because the team had only five relievers Saturday night and newly acquired James McDonald is not expected to arrive until Monday, another reliever -- almost surely left-hander Justin Thomas -- will be recalled this morning.

• Expect Jason Jaramillo to be returned to Indianapolis when Snyder reports.

• Doumit participated in a full batting practice, another sign his concussion symptoms are clearing.

Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog .


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