Doumit adjusting to bench role with Braves
SAN FRANCISCO -- When Ryan Doumit learned he had been traded by the Twins to the Braves in December, he was excited about the opportunity to play for a legitimate playoff hopeful for the first time in his career. But at the same time, he knew he had to mentally prepare himself for his new primary role as a pinch-hitter.
While spending the previous seven seasons with the Pirates and Twins, Doumit was a lineup regular who spent time as a catcher, outfielder and designated hitter. But this year has been a different story for the 33-year-old veteran, who made his fourth start of the season when he served as Atlanta's left fielder in Sunday's win over the Cubs.
Doumit has spent this season's first six weeks adjusting to life as a backup. The 17 pinch-hit at-bats he had compiled entering Monday were three fewer than the career-high total he notched in 2006 and 2011 with the Pirates.
"It's an adjustment," Doumit said. "It's a hard gig. I can't imagine anything harder in this game than pinch-hitting. You've got one chance and normally you're facing a closer or setup man who has tremendous stuff, throwing 96 or 97 with an out pitch. This is a result-oriented game. But as a pinch-hitter, you just try to put your stock in having good at-bats. You just have to try to go up there and not give at-bats away."
Doumit had a conversation about his new role with former Braves pinch-hit artist and current Cubs first-base coach Eric Hinske on Saturday. A few hours later, he drilled a game-winning double that improved his batting average as a pinch-hitter to .235 (4-for-17).
After gaining some satisfaction in that win over the Cubs, Doumit delivered a pair of hits when he had a chance to start Sunday afternon's series finale.
"I still look at myself as an everyday guy," Doumit said. "I know I can still play and I know I can still be productive. There has been an adjustment to this role because I've never done it before. But I'm not going to lose my identity as a baseball player. I'm just going to roll with the punches and be prepared whenever I do get a chance to play."