Pirates Notebook: Jaramillo eager for 'challenge'

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Jason Jaramillo never swung a bat in a Major League Baseball game until last week, and now he has to replace injured Ryan Doumit, the Pirates' switch-hitting, power-hitting, cleanup-hitting catcher.

Sounds like an intimidating order.

"When you decide you want to catch, this is why you take the job," Jaramillo said yesterday. "That's the responsibility that comes with it, and I wanted to catch because of that responsibility, that role of leadership, so I'm looking forward to this challenge. I'm ready to roll."

He emphasized his empathy for Doumit, too.

"Obviously, it's bittersweet. Ryan's a big part of this team, and I hope he gets back healthy 100 percent. But I'm just here to hold the fort down."

Jaramillo made his second start in Doumit's absence last night, and he can be expected to make the majority for as long as it lasts, manager John Russell said. But some of the duty, he added, will go to Robinzon Diaz, promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis, and it might take the form of a platoon: Jaramillo is a switch-hitter, Diaz right-handed.

"Jason has earned the right to see what he can do," Russell said. "The main thing is keep them fresh and keep both playing because we're going to need both of them. They'll be prepared. They're young, but they're good. And they're going to have support. Ryan will be around to help. They'll have all the information to help them through."

Jaramillo, 26, was a career .271 hitter in the minors and beat out Diaz to be Doumit's backup out of spring training almost solely because of his defense.

Diaz, 25, is a .305 hitter in the minors, 3 for 10 in the majors, including a stint with the Pirates last September.

Russell's true challenge in replacing Doumit, it would appear, is not behind the plate as much as in the lineup. Expect that to mean a greater emphasis on offense from the position players.

"We're going to need people to hit," Russell said.

Outside help?

General manager Neal Huntington, while expressing confidence in Jaramillo and Diaz, made clear that he will seek catching help, much as he continuously stresses improving at all positions.

"We know what a loss this is to us, especially the bat," Huntington said.

It will not be easy finding help, if the target is catcher. The position is considered to be at a premium in the industry.

Buried treasure

• Diaz arrived from Indianapolis at mid-game last night.

• Florida lost its cleanup hitter, too, with first baseman Jorge Cantu a late scratch to a sore left wrist. Ross Gload replaced him. Cantu probably will be out today, too.

• Brian Friday, the Pirates' top shortstop prospect at Class AA Altoona, was placed on the minor league disabled list with a left ear infection.

• The Pirates' auction of opening-day caps and jerseys for the Pittsburgh Police's Fallen Heroes Fund ends tonight at 7. Check pirates.com for details.



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