Can Doumit do it?


Ryan Doumit ended this year on the disabled list, adding another frustrating chapter to his brief, injury-filled history with the Pirates.

With all the struggles catcher Ronny Paulino — his batting average plummeted by nearly 50 points and his defense was shoddy — Doumit would seem to have a shot at getting more playing time next season. Doumit did well in right field when Xavier Nady (speaking of injuries …) was out. Doumit’s routes on fly balls were good and his arm was impressive. But Nady has a firm grip on right field, and Steve Pearce made a solid case for more time as the backup. And with Andrew McCutchen on the doorstep, do the Pirates have room for another outfielder? (Well, they would if/when Jason Bay is traded, but that’s a blog entry for another day.)

Doumit could get more time somewhere next summer, but first he’ll have to say healthy. Before the season ended, manager Jim Tracy had a closed-door meeting with Doumit and asked him to make more of an effort to get in shape, report to spring camp in shape, and stay in shape.

“One of the things I wanted to make sure that he was aware of is, the progress that he has made dating back to the start of (2006),” Tracy said. “When he’s on the field, when he’s healthy, the progress he’s made which overwhelmed me defensively in the outfield. But part of the discussion led to me wondering, ‘How good a player could you really become if you were in the best physical shape?’

“Maybe he feels differently about it. With what I’ve seen this guy do between the lines, I have a right to wonder about that. We’ve dealt with leg injuries, hamstrings in particular … there’s been significant time spent on the disabled list (by Doumit) in the two years I’ve been here. There’s been a significant amount of down time.

You can bet new GM Neal Huntington has noticed, too.