Doumit confident he can still get job done

As the Clint Hurdle era officially opens camp, the onetime starting catcher wonders if his days in Pittsburgh are numbered

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Veteran Ryan Doumit isn't happy about this role -- or lack of role -- but it didn't stop him Monday from working as hard as anyone when the Pirates officially opened spring training workouts under new manager Clint Hurdle.

There will be no distractions.

Doumit, the Pirates opening day catcher in each of the past three years, will open the season either as a backup, jack-of-all-trades utility man or on someone else's roster if general manager Neal Huntington finds a suitable trading partner.

"I can be an everyday player. That's my approach. No matter where they put me, though, I'll be the best I can be," Doumit said Monday. "It's not something I'm going to dwell on. I'm already tired of talking about this. I'll show up and let my play do the talking."


Doumit lost his catching job in the second half of last season when the Pirates traded for Chris Snyder, who is better defensively. And it's Snyder who will start this season the same way with Doumit as his backup.

Although Doumit also started 17 games last season in right field and another three at first base, those roles also dried up this winter when the Pirates signed free agents Lyle Overbay to play first base and Matt Diaz to platoon in right field with Garrett Jones.

He has opened spring training as a former starter -- the third highest-paid Pirates player ($5.1 million) -- now living in no-man's land.

Although Huntington declined to talk about specific trade possibilities, the likelihood of moving Doumit is good.

"We're not dying to move him. He has value to us. It has to make sense to us, and we haven't found that," Huntington said shortly after the Pirates started their workout.

"Other clubs are kicking tires around, and teams are hoping we give him away. But that's not going to happen."

Doumit, 29, was once one of the National League's best-hitting catchers. In 2008, he hit .318 with 15 home runs in his 103 starts, the most home runs for a Pirates catcher in 13 years. He led the National League (.407) with runners in scoring position.

Yet he slumped the past two seasons -- hitting just .250 and .251 -- and durability continued to be a problem, another reason Snyder was acquired.

"Talent plays. They'll go with who performs, and I understand that," Doumit said.

"I haven't played up to par the last couple years, but I feel confident that when I play my best, I can get the job done."

Hurdle has spoken with Doumit about the situation more than once, and he is impressed with the way Doumit has handled it. He is in the last year of his contract, which makes playing time even more important for him.

"He's come in ready, and his mindset is good. His head is clear," Hurdle said. "He's been nothing but aces so far in the conversations we've had.

"He knows what's at stake. So many things can happen in the course of a spring that things just work themselves out."

Doumit was one of the last to leave the fields Monday, trying to prepare to play a number of different roles, which he has done the past several years.

His versatility could serve him well.

"I'm not the first person to go through something like this, and I won't be the last. It's the nature of the beast, the business we're in," Doumit said.

"You come in and be professional, do the best you can, then let the chips fall where they may."


• Hurdle was his usual enthusiastic self after finishing the first day of workouts. "I've had this day circled for a long time," he said. "We're going to focus on what is in front of us. That's rebuilding a championship organization." He also said he expects to end the speculation soon and announce before the spring games begin whether Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will be his bullpen closer.

• Starting catcher Chris Snyder, who joined the team at the trade deadline last summer, said Monday that going through spring training with the Pirates should make a big difference when it comes to handling a young pitching staff. "Spring training is key for building relationships with pitchers, which is something you need. Being here from the start kind of eases you into it. It just gives you a better feel for everyone when you're here from the beginning." Snyder, who came from Arizona, said that last season was one he would like to forget. "Just a wild year," he said. "I started with a team that I knew wanted to trade me at the first chance it could get. It was like being somewhere where you were not wanted."

• Pitcher Jose Ascanio was the lone absentee Monday, the first official day for pitchers and catchers. Ascanio, from Venezuela, was having visa problems and was expected within the next couple days. Although position players aren't required to be here until the end of the week, there were 51 of the 62 already checked in Monday.


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