Pirates, Doumit move to put matter to rest

Two key plays likely led to Russell benching him Friday

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MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates again benched catcher Ryan Doumit last night, this after he was pulled in mid-game Friday for unspecified transgressions on the field, but there also was a palpable effort yesterday on the part of the team and the player to put the matter to rest.

General manager Neal Huntington made clear he has no intention of trading Doumit, even though he has traded others who have displeased management.

"This isn't going to be the first time one of our players experiences a disciplinary issue, and it's not going to be the last," Huntington said by the team's Miller Park clubhouse. "The response isn't always going to be, 'Get him out of here,' and it's not in this situation. ... JR and Ryan are going to handle this, and we expect to move beyond it."

Last night, after the 7-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, Russell and Doumit met in the manager's office for about 15 minutes.

Russell was asked if Doumit will play today.

"We'll see," he replied.

There also was an approach made by Doumit toward management earlier in the day -- though it was not known what, specifically -- to let the Pirates know he had no wish to play elsewhere. There never has been a trade demand made.

Doumit again declined to be interviewed, though he appeared to be in visibly better spirits, playing cards with teammates and participating enthusiastically in all drills.

He was pulled after 4 1/2 innings of the 8-6 loss Friday -- he went 0 for 3 with a double-play groundout with bases loaded, a forceout and a flyout -- and all concerned continued to decline comment on why.

All that could be culled on that topic from various sources yesterday was that it was not just one incident that prompted Russell, and that the two most likely incidents were these: In the fourth inning, a Casey McGehee popup near the railing of Milwaukee's dugout fell between Doumit and first baseman Steve Pearce. The catcher is supposed to take charge on that play. Then, on Doumit's flyout in the top of the fifth, he never reached first base, as all players are instructed.

After that half-inning, Doumit was replaced by Jason Jaramillo.

Jaramillo was behind the plate again last night, though Russell said he had been considering using Jaramillo, anyway -- "Maybe," he qualified -- because of the afternoon game today.

Doumit was vocal in his displeasure about the Pirates' many recent trades, and Russell was asked if, in general, he still would find such a sentiment acceptable.

"I think the initial response was understandable: You lose a teammate, lose a friend, and it's usually a one- or two-day thing," Russell said. "You've got to be able to move on. For the most part, I think our guys have done that."

Huntington was asked the same question.

"I'd be disappointed if we were still feeling that loss," he said. "I understands our friends, our teammates and some mentors are gone. I think it's time we step up and move beyond it. There are several guys on this team who have done that, and it's time for us as an organization to recognize that there are some good things going on here. We're looking for people who are going to be a part of that going forward."

Doumit is batting .219 with eight home runs in the first year of his three-year contract extension that guarantees $2.35 million this year, $3.55 million next year and $5.1 million in 2011.


Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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