Pirates Notebook: Doumit could soon get thumbs-up on return

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ST. LOUIS -- Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit caught a full bullpen session yesterday and also began hitting off a tee. Doumit has been out since May 13 with a fracture in his left thumb but appears to be close to returning.


Minor-league report
Sunday's games

INDIANAPOLIS (28-30) lost to Toledo, 5-3. RHP Ty Taubenheim (3-8, 5.29) allowed four runs and five hits in six innings. 1B Craig Wilson (.214) hit his seventh home run and went 1 for 3 with a walk. DH Steve Pearce (.259) went 1 for 4. CF Andrew McCutchen (.288) went 0 for 3. 3B Neil Walker (.221) went 0 for 4.

ALTOONA (22-32) won at Erie, 6-5. RHP Josh Hill (4-5, 3.81) allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. RF Brad Corley (.300) hit his fifth home run and went 1 for 4.

LYNCHBURG (21-35) lost to Wilmington, 6-5. LHP Tony Watson (3-6, 4.05) allowed one run and four hits in five innings. 2B Angel Gonzalez (.245) went 3 for 5 with a double.

HICKORY (27-30) lost at Charleston, 9-6. RHP Brad Clapp (0-4, 3.89) allowed three runs, one earned, and seven hits in six innings. 3B Bobby Spain (.318) had his hitting streak end at 21 games by going 0 for 4.


"It felt great," Doumit said after his bullpen session. "I feel like I am days away, really. I felt game-ready catching today. There was one pitch I felt that jammed it a little bit but the next pitch, the pain went away. So there is not staying power with the pain, so that's good.

"I'm hoping to take one more [session] tomorrow and then see what happens."

Doumit, a switch hitter, said he feels only about 80 percent batting right-handed, which would be the side of the plate where the swing would put more pressure on his thumb, but he wouldn't hesitate to bat right-handed if needed.

He will also continue to wear a special splint on his thumb when he returns and he is hoping to avoid a rehabilitation stint in the minors.

"I would rather not [go to the minors for a few games]," Doumit said. "I would rather just jump right into it. I have taken enough reps here that I don't feel like I am too far out of it so if I have a say in it, I'd hope I don't have to do it."

Wilson scratched

Jack Wilson, who returned Tuesday after nearly six weeks on the disabled list with a calf injury, was in the lineup yesterday morning but was scratched for the second consecutive game.

Wilson had been struggling with tightness in the muscles above his calf -- behind his knee -- and manager John Russell said after the game he just needed another day of rest. Wilson said he could have played and he expects to be back in the lineup tonight.

"There was a little pinch and so they decided to give me an extra day to rest, that's all," Wilson said. "It feels pretty good, a lot better than it did yesterday, so I'll test it again in the morning but I should be ready to go."

Gorzelanny to minors?

General manager Neal Huntington, on his weekly radio show yesterday, said the Pirates would consider sending pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to Class AAA Indianapolis if he continues to falter.

"As hesitant as we would be to do something like that, yes, we would," Huntington said. "We have to figure out the best course of action to get him back to his potential ... Whether we can do that at the major league level -- we've got an enhanced program that we've already begun -- or that does take going to Indianapolis ... I'd say we're still a ways away from that, but the reality is that we have to help Tom Gorzelanny."

Gorzelanny lasted two-thirds of an inning Tuesday in Cincinnati and has a 7.38 ERA. He will start tonight in St. Louis. Gorzelanny is 1-3 all time against the Cardinals with a 3.41 ERA.

Buried Treasure

• The Pirates' outfield of Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady and Jason Bay is the most productive in baseball as the trio leads major league outfields in average (.308), slugging percentage (.569) and homers (34) and is also second with 114 RBIs (batting as outfielders). The group is on pace to hit 100 homers and drive in 335 runs. For some fun and comparison's sake the Pirates' 1991 primary outfielders, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke -- the last year all three were together -- batted .287, had a slugging percentage of .485, hit 60 home runs and drove in 299 runs. Bonilla also played some third base in 1991.

• Cardinals starter Brandon Looper's final numbers were probably better than he actually pitched because his teammates made four spectacular defensive plays. The best came in the second when Rick Ankiel made an over the shoulder diving catch on a ball hit by Xavier Nady. Cardinals left fielder Skip Schumaker also made a diving catch to end an inning and second baseman Adam Kennedy and shortstop Cesar Izturis robbed the Pirates of hits.

• Yesterday's game was delayed 13 minutes in the fifth because the "signage" in center field -- the one which is in the batter's sight line -- flipped from blank to a big red sign that read "Ford and YOU". That area is generally dark and blank while the teams are batting so the batter can see the ball. Stadium workers struggled to get the sign back to blank and by the end of the fiasco were being booed by the crowd, though they received loud cheers when they finally got the problem resolved.



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