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Pirates' catcher Diaz filling in nicely


Pirates' catcher Diaz filling in nicely
Robinzon Diaz is making Ryan Doumit's injury a little easier to take.

Heading into Wednesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Diaz was batting .400 since his call-up from Triple-A Indianapolis and has shown enough to earn back-to-back starts at catcher while batting fifth for the Pirates .

"I'm feeling really good," he said. "To me, when I go to hit, I just try to put the ball in play and hit it hard."

Diaz is becoming a hard out.

Not including last night's game, he's batting .467 with three multi-hit games in his past four starts, highlighted by his first major-league home run. His .600 slugging percentage is the best on the team -- albeit with a small sample -- and he's showing an ability to use all parts of the field.

Capable catchers

Backups Robinzon

Diaz and Jason Jaramillo

have worked to alleviate the concerns after Ryan Doumit, the team's

cleanup hitter and starting catcher, was lost for 8-10 weeks with a

broken wrist April 21. Here's how the Pirates' catchers compare this

season heading into Wednesday night's game:

Player

G

AB

R

HR

RBI

AVG

Robinzon Diaz

7

25

2

1

4

.400

Jason Jaramillo

15

47

4

0

5

.277

Ryan Doumit

12

45

5

2

9

.244

"He's swinging the bat well," manager John Russell said. "When a guy is swinging the bat like that, you've got to try to keep him in the lineup any way you can. ... Sometimes, you've got to ride the hot hand."

Diaz, acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Bautista in August, and Jason Jaramillo have combined to ease the concerns after Doumit, the team's clean-up hitter, was lost for 8-10 weeks with a broken wrist April 21.

At the time, catcher was the Pirates' thinnest position. But Diaz, who batted .350 in the minors, is 10-for-25, and Jaramillo is hitting .277 with a .382 on-base percentage.

"I'm going to do the best I can," Diaz said. "I try to play hard and win the game."

Diaz may never be a 20-home run hitter, but he has shown flashes of power.

After hitting only 18 home runs in 2,465 minor-league at-bats, Diaz needed only 19 at-bats to connect for his first major-league homer -- a 406-foot tracer off Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer on May 7.

"I don't try to hit a lot of home runs," Diaz said. "I just try to hit it hard, and anything that happens is fine with me."

The 25-year-old Diaz also owns two doubles and is by far the toughest Pirate to strike out this year (once in 25 at-bats).

Pitchers may eventually spot a weakness, and Diaz is unlikely to hit .400 all season, but the early results are encouraging.

"He doesn't try to do too much," Russell said. "That's why he's valuable right now. He puts the ball in play, and he uses the whole field. He's doing some good things.

"It's not a knock against (Jaramillo), because J.J. is doing a pretty good job, too. ... (Diaz) is swinging the bat really well right now, and we're going to continue to run him out there."

For sure, Diaz doesn't get cheated.

He hasn't drawn a walk in 32 plate appearances with the Pirates dating to last season and has only 20 walks in his past 656 pro at-bats.

Diaz always has been able to hit, though.

As a 17-year-old, he batted a team-best .312 with 45 in the Dominican Summer League.

When asked about Russell's growing confidence in him, Diaz flashed a big smile.

"That's good," he said. "I have confidence in me, too."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

david-eckstein
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