I waited nearly two hours for catcher Ryan Doumit this morning in an attempt to see if he had thought about the prospect of this being his final game at PNC Park as a Pittsburgh Pirate. Doumit never did come to the clubhouse to take the question (and others), but I do have to assume he has considered the possibility.
If this does end up being the final page of Doumit’s career in Pittsburgh, he’ll be experiencing it from the bench. The Pirates are staying extra cautious with Doumit after he took a foul tip off the mask on Friday. The decision to keep Doumit out of the lineup was made following input from both Doumit and the training staff.
Still, manager Clint Hurdle said he would see if he could find a chance for Doumit to pinch hit before the end of Sunday’s game.
Doumit is the longest-tenured player in the organization. Drafted by the club in 1999, Doumit made his debut with the Pirates in 2005. He became the team’s starting catcher in 2008 but has dealt with several injuries throughout his career.
The Pirates are not expected to pick up Doumit’s two-year club option after the season. As a result, Doumit will become a free agent. That said, don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh makes an attempt to re-sign the veteran backstop. The Pirates are going to need a no. 1 catcher in 2012 and Doumit could fill that role.
What will be intriguing to see is A) what level of interest Doumit has in returning and B) what his value will be on the open market. All this will affect any attempts the Pirates make to retain him. The Pirates also have to determine whether they believe Doumit can stay healthy enough to make his services useful for a full season.
While Doumit has not been the strongest defensive catcher on the club this year, it would be unfair to understate his offensive contributions. He is hitting .441 this month and .304 in 75 games this year. No one on the club has a higher slugging percentage, and he is batting .339 with six homers at PNC Park.
Doumit’s potential departure will be one of many storylines to follow this offseason.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB