ATLANTA — John Russell’s first surprise move as Pirates manager came in today’s season opener against Atlanta, when Ryan Doumit replaced Ronny Paulino as the starting catcher.
Russell said he made the switch because Doumit’s patient approach at the plate would be a boon against lefty Tom Glavine. Yet, Doumit insisted his approach is no different now than it’s ever been ….
Even as I was typing those words, Doumit bounced a single up the middle in the second inning on a 2-1 pitch against Glavine. Adam LaRoche, however, was held up at third base.
As I was saying, Doumit said his approach is the same. And Paulino’s career batting average against lefties is a robust .373 …
First and third, one out. Jose Bautista works the count full — hey, maybe the Bucs really are taking a more patient approach at the plate against Glavine. So much for that; Bautista struck out.
As I was saying, maybe Russell had a gut feeling that Doumit was the man for the job tonight. Or maybe it was a none-too-subtle way of delivering a message to Paulino — and the rest of the team — that no one is safe from riding the bench on any night.
• Bad mistake by Nate McLouth in the first inning. After drawing a leadoff walk from Glavine, McLouth wandered too far off the bag — actually taking another step toward second as catcher Brian McCann was catching the ball. McCann fired to first and McLouth was picked off easily.
• It’s only the second inning, and already I am weary of that damn Tomahawk Chop. Ever since ’92, it makes my flesh crawl.
• Freddy Sanchez just fielded his first grounder of the game, an easy roller off McCann’s bat. Don’t worry about Sanchez’s sore shoulder; he had plenty of time to make a soft lob to first base. The real test will be how Sanchez feels later this week, after he’s played a few games and had to make some tricky, full-speed throws.