PITTSBURGH -- After catchings a full game for Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, Ryan Doumit returned to Pittsburgh, where he rejoined the Major League club for Wednesday's game against the Cubs.
Doumit has been on the disabled list since spraining his left ankle in a May 29 loss in Chicago. His rehab stint included a short stay with Class A Bradenton before he joined Indianapolis last week. He caught nine innings for the first time on Saturday and after Tuesday will have caught back-to-back games.
General manager Neal Huntington noted that Doumit's at-bats have started to look better in recent days. After going hitless in his first three Triple-A games, Doumit has four hits in 12 at-bats.
"Ryan, unfortunately, has never swung the bat all that well in a rehab assignment," Huntington said. "In some cases he's come back and done well. In some cases he's come back and struggled. It's just more a matter of timing and confidence."
The Pirates sent coach Mark Strittmatter to work with Doumit, particularly on the defensive side, and perhaps that is still the biggest question mark. Eleven runners have attempted to steal off Doumit in four Triple-A games, and all reached safely.
Is that an area of concern?
"You'd certainly like to see more caught-stealings in that group," Huntington said. "But how much of it is our young pitchers' fault? How much of it is Ryan's? ... Do we need him to be better up here? Sure. But to hold him down there until he catches a guy is probably not the best use of our resources."
The Pirates sent down Eric Fryer, who has been serving as a backup to Michael McKenry. Pittsburgh will also have to make a move to clear a spot for Doumit on the 40-man roster.
Hurdle explains decision not to use Hanrahan
PITTSBURGH -- During the Pirates' 1-6 stretch, Joel Hanrahan has been limited mostly to a spectator role, as manager Clint Hurdle opted not to turn to his closer in three extra-inning games or in a one-run contest on Monday.
Hurdle's decision to not use his club's best reliever in a number of games over the past week can be debated. Especially since, while Hanrahan was staying ready for a save opportunity, the bullpen lost all three road games that went into extra innings.
Don't think that Hurdle hasn't jumped into the debate as well, weighing numerous factors in each decision to go to someone other than No. 52.
"Could I be more aggressive with him? Absolutely, I could be more aggressive with him," Hurdle said. "Where that will take us ... I'm trying to use common sense. I'm trying to make sure I'm tied to his arm. And I'm trying to play into our pitching coach's knowledge of what he sees."
Hurdle noted that Hanrahan would have been brought in to pitch the 10th inning on Sunday had Chris Resop been able to set down the Phillies in the ninth. But when Resop struggled, Hurdle had to turn to Tony Watson to get the final out of the inning.
Because of the workload the bullpen had already carried on the road trip, Hurdle didn't feel he had the luxury of using Watson for just that one out. As a result, Watson went out to pitch the 10th, and the Phillies collected a walk-off hit against him.
Plenty else has gone into consideration. With 46 appearances this year, Hanrahan is on pace for 70. Hurdle doesn't want to elevate that pace too much by using Hanrahan in non-save situations.
There's also the concern of pitch count and how strong Hanrahan could stay if he's needed to pitch more than one inning. Had Hanrahan gone in to pitch in a tie game, Hurdle said, he would have been tempted to send Hanrahan out for another if the Pirates had taken the lead. Effectiveness could become an issue at that point.
"It's a fine line," Hurdle said. "It's an area of growth for, I think, any manager when you start looking at different dynamics of the bullpen and how to construct it. We'll continue to revisit it."
If there is any good news out of all this, it's that Hanrahan is well rested. Since July 19 he has appeared in only three games.
Bucs nearing 2 million attendance mark
PITTSBURGH -- Though the Pirates won't be able to match the attendance mark set during PNC Park's first season, the organization is within reach of drawing 2 million for just the fourth time in franchise history.
With 22,248 in the ballpark on Monday night, the Pirates increased their season attendance to 1,269,516 after 52 home games. That puts them on pace to draw 1,977,515 by the end of the year. Only three times in the team's 125-year history has it drawn more.
The season record was set in 2001, when the new ballpark helped boost attendance to 2,436,139. The Pirates were also above the 2 million mark in both 1990 and 1991. Getting back there this year is certainly not out of reach.
The Pirates would need to average 25,189 per game to reach 3 million. In the last 16 games, they have drawn at least that many 12 times.
"They are everything you could want in your home crowd," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It has been wonderful. It has been one of the best stories for me, personally, to see this stadium being more filled as we get into the summer. I applaud them."
Pittsburgh's season average ranks 20th in the Majors. Last year the Pirates finished 27th, with an average of 19,918 per game.
Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to make another rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. The start will be his fifth overall and second at the Triple-A level. There is a good chance this could be his final outing before being activated from the disabled list. He has been sidelined since April 9 with a right shoulder strain.
Outfielder Alex Presley (left hand contusion) took swings off a tee on Monday and could work his way up to taking batting practice before the end of the homestand.
The Pirates acquired shortstop Brian Bocock from the Phillies in a Minor League trade. Bocock hit .224 with a .290 on-base percentage in 81 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Pa.).
Left-handed reliever Joe Beimel remains one appearance shy of becoming just the fifth pitcher to make 100 or more appearances at PNC Park. Current Cubs reliever John Grabow has the most, with 196.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.