5/12/2014 10:49 P.M. ET
Doumit adjusting to bench role with Braves
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
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."
Braves continue batting pitcher eighth
SAN FRANCISCO -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has not been overwhelmed by the results since he began placing his starting pitcher in the lineup's eighth spot last week. But he is planning to stick with this non-traditional lineup arrangement until his slumbering lineup shows some consistent signs of life.
Gonzalez's lineup for Monday night's series opener against the Giants had Gavin Floyd batting eighth and second baseman Ramiro Pena positioned in the ninth spot. This marked the seventh straight game he opted to bat his pitcher one spot higher than normal.
"It doesn't really make my toes tingle," said Gonzalez. "But sometimes you've just got to do something a little different. It's better than doing the same thing you were doing."
Though the Braves entered Monday having won four of their past five games, their success had more to do with their pitching staff than their offense, which averaged 2.7 runs in the first six games of this non-traditional lineup arrangement. This meager output has at least been an improvement compared to 1.7 runs that had been averaged in the six previous games.
While these sample sizes are small, Gonzalez's reasoning behind shaking up his lineup had more to do with the fact that his team has averaged just 3.19 runs per game this season -- the National League's second-lowest mark.
Before Sunday's sweep-clinching 5-2 win over the Cubs, the Braves had totaled eight runs in their four previous victories.
"At some point when we start rocking and rolling offensively, I think we'll go back to a more traditional [lineup]," Gonzalez said. "It's just something we're trying."
• Justin Upton returned to the lineup Monday without much concern about the back spasms that forced him to exit Saturday's game. The veteran outfielder rested during Sunday's game and was not adversely affected by the cross-country flight from Atlanta to San Francisco.
• With Gerald Laird dealing with a sore right foot Sunday, Evan Gattis was forced to catch a third consecutive game. Laird was feeling strong enough to handle the catching duties Monday. Even with Wednesday being a day game, Gattis is slated to be behind the plate for the final two games of this week's series against the Giants.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.