WASHINGTON -- Ryan Doumit, the Pirates' catcher, made his 30th career start at first base Thursday night, his first since May 14, 2007, when it was part of previous manager Jim Tracy's multiple attempts to get him out from behind the plate, either at first or in right field.
This time, the move is more medical in nature.
Although Doumit began taking grounders at first two weeks ago to prepare for occasionally being spelled from catching, this one came about because manager John Russell wanted to ease Doumit back into action after he missed five games to concussion-like symptoms brought by a foul tip to the mask.
"Being a former catcher, I wouldn't want to see Ryan getting hit by another foul tip right now," Russell said. "I wanted to be a little cautious, and Ryan was already doing some work at first, so it worked out."
Doumit could resume catching as early as Sunday in Detroit, Russell said, but that is unlikely given that the Pirates are off Monday, and he could have an extra day away from the position.
Moreover, though Russell declined to divulge the Pirates' choice for designated hitter in their first interleague game tonight against the Tigers, he did mention Doumit as a possibility, as well as Ryan Church. Delwyn Young also could work into that mix.
In the 4-2 loss to Washington Thursday, Doumit failed to backhand a bounced throw from third baseman Andy LaRoche, resulting in a fifth-inning run for the Nationals, and went 0 for 4 at the plate.
Team president Frank Coonelly predicted that the July 31 trading deadline will be different for the Pirates this summer than the current management's first two, when many veterans were sent away in what the team described as an attempt to add quantity and quality to the minor-league system.
"I can't imagine any circumstances under which it would be anything like the first two July 31 dates. And it could be the reverse," Coonelly said, referring to the Pirates as potential buyers rather than sellers.
The Pirates have not been an in-season buyer since 1997, when acquiring shortstop Shawon Dunston, now a special assistant to San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean.
Left fielder Jose Tabata was right back in the lineup despite missing the final inning of his debut to a cramp in the lower portion of his right hamstring. He still was limping a bit Thursday, but he passed an afternoon running test and was cleared to play.
Tabata has a history of hamstring trouble, but this was his first this year.
"It's nothing big," he said.
• First baseman Steve Pearce, rehabilitating his sprained right ankle in Bradenton, Fla, will begin a minor-league stint by the middle of next week with Class AAA Indianapolis.
• Bobby Crosby, taking Ronny Cedeno's place at shortstop for the night, made his fourth start in eight June games, and two of those were missed due to illness.
• Indianapolis second baseman Brian Friday sprained his right ankle Wednesday turning a double play and will go on the minor-league disabled list. Friday, 24, was batting .277 with two home runs and 21 RBIs.