Notes: Doumit ready for rehab trip
Bucs catcher working his way back from hamstring injury
ST. LOUIS -- Catcher Ryan Doumit will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. If all goes well, he'll be activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday.
Doumit, who has been sidelined for two weeks by a left hamstring strain, got the green light to begin playing again after successfully completing on-field running drills Tuesday afternoon. He'll join the Bucs' top farm club in Toledo on Thursday before meeting the big-league team in Chicago next Monday.
"That's the plan right now," said Pirates manager Jim Tracy. "But until we see how the leg responds in game-type situations, there is nothing that is completely certain. But there has to be a plan. And for the time being, that is the plan."
Doumit, who had accompanied the Pirates during the entire six-game road trip, was informed of his assignment during a meeting with Tracy and assistant general manager Doug Strange.
"It's as expected," said Doumit. "I missed two weeks, and its pretty standard procedure. I'll go down there for a few games and I'll be back."
Bay remains patient: Pirates slugger Jason Bay's patience at the plate has been a key element to his success in the big leagues. But, as was the case with the ultra-patient Brian Giles before him, some have questioned whether Bay should be more aggressive during situations where he has an opportunity to drive in runs. Twice during the current road losing streak, Bay has worked deep into the count with the bases loaded before being called out looking at the third strike.
Bay sees no reason to alter his approach.
"Obviously there are certain situations where you try to do stuff," said Bay. "But I'm not going up there trying to make something up out of nothing. I'm still going up there with the same approach I go with in every at-bat, and that's trying to get good pitches to hit."
As Pittsburgh's top offensive threat, Bay is the one guy in the lineup who opponents do not want to allow to beat them. Therefore, he typically sees fewer good pitches to hit than his teammates. With that in mind, Bay sees no benefit in chasing pitches out of the strike zone, particularly in crucial situations.
"I have to be smart about pitches that I choose to put in play," said Bay. "I don't want to put a borderline pitch with one strike in play, and then roll it over into a double play. I still want to get something I can drive."
Jack leading off? With Chris Duffy (.169) and Nate McLouth (.220) struggling to get it going offensively, the thought has crossed Tracy's mind that No. 2 hitter Jack Wilson (.338) would probably be his option at the leadoff spot.
Tracy, however, does not want to mess with a good thing.
"Your most viable option is obviously the guy who is hitting second [Wilson]," said Tracy. "But you spent some time in the offseason and you spent an entire Spring Training laying out exactly what you wanted that guy to do in that [second] spot in the lineup and how you'd like to see him go about it. He's fulfilled that stuff to a tee. You can't ask him to do anymore.
"To move Jack Wilson to the leadoff spot when you know that, if Chris Duffy is going to be a Major Leaguer, that's where he's going to be very productive for a ballclub -- so he needs to figure it out -- and to have Jack Wilson go the other way on you, to me, that's wrong. That's creating another problem that you don't necessarily need. [Wilson] is so very proficient where he's at right now."
Wilson has led off in just 12 games during his six-year career (12-for-53, .226). He last batted leadoff for the Pirates on Sept. 24, 2005, when he went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk.
Crowded behind the plate: The Pirates will have a logjam behind the plate when Doumit is ready to return, and the team will not carry three catchers on the roster.
Humberto Cota was the Bucs' Opening Day starter, and he is their most experienced backstop. That would seem to leave rookie Ronny Paulino as the odd man out. However, Paulino has started five games since being recalled from Indianapolis, and entering action Wednesday, he was batting .385 (5-for-13).
"We won't speculate on a personnel standpoint or what we will do when we get to the point of Doumit coming back," said Tracy. "Paulino has done a very nice job. He's really handled himself extremely well in a lot of areas of the game -- not only with his bat, but what he's done with himself behind the plate."
The determining factor in the decision-making process could be that Paulino still has Minor League options remaining. Cota does not.
Burnitz gets a break: Struggling Pirates right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, who has gone just 2-for-19 in his last five games, was not in the starting lineup Wednesday afternoon.
With a scheduled off-day Thursday, Tracy said he wanted to give Burnitz some time to "regroup."
"This affords him a couple of days to get some things sorted out, because we know offensively he is much, much better than what we have seen to this point," said Tracy.
On deck: The Bucs will return home Friday for the start of a three-game series against the Phillies. Right-hander Ian Snell will start for Pittsburgh against Philadelphia right-hander Brett Myers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.