Doumit Hopes To Build On Solid Season

Ryan Doumit came to Spring Training in the best shape of his career. He was facing a tough battle trying to convince team management that he should be the team's catcher.

After a breakout season, the switch-hitting Doumit will go into 2009 with the starting catching job locked up. Doumit hit .318 (137-for-431) with 34 doubles, 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 71 runs in a career-high 116 games, led N.L. catchers with a .323 average - Minnesota's Joe Mauer led the majors with a .337 average. He reached base safely in 87 of his 104 starts and ranked fourth among N.L. catchers with 68 RBI. His 15 homers were most by Bucco catcher since Mark Parent hit 15 in 1995 (club record is 17).

"I think I've come a long way," Doumit opined. "There is still certainly room for improvement, but I feel pretty good about my season."

Doumit's receiving improved defensively, but his game-calling and managing base paths -- he threw out 21 percent of base-stealers -- still need work. But he feels he is making solid progress.

"I proved to myself that I can do it," he offered. "It's a good feeling to know what it takes to keep my body in the best shape physically and I'm going to continue that."

The recipe for success was his off season conditioning.

"I think it is the recipe for success," Doumit said. "I take a look at the reward of it and it's a regimen that I'm probably going to follow the rest of my career."

The Pirates shook up their roster with the trades of outfielder's Jason Bay and Xavier Nady and the so-called new guard of outfielder Nate McLouth and Doumit are now team leaders.

"Yeah, it's one of those things where guys are kind of looking to us to take a leadership role," Doumit explained. "We except the challenge and we're going to take the reins and run with it."

The Pirates face the bleak prospect of a record setting 17th consecutive losing season in 2009, but Doumit feels the young team could grow in the future.

"I think time will tell," Doumit stated. "I think we're certainly moving in the right direction and we've got some talent here and some guys that can do some pretty special things. What we need right now is some experience and like I said time will tell."

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