"We might have as versatile a player as there is in the big leagues playing every day at third base for us," Pirates manager Jim Tracy stated. "He could be as versatile -- I know for a fact in the National League, I don't see enough of the American League to put them in the same category, but this guy may be as versatile as any player in the National League."
Bautista has gotten off to a great start and has reached base safely in 18 of 19 games this season. He entered Thursday's game sporting a career-high 12-game hitting streak. He was batting .308 with one home run and five RBIs.
"I feel good so far," Bautista explained. "I think I've been consistent with my approach, and I'm swinging at pitches that are in the zone and I'm just putting the ball in play hard consistently, and it's worked out so far."
Bautista has also flashed the leather at third, making some outstanding plays in the field.
"Yeah, I feel good about the work I've done on defense so far," Bautista said. "But it's a day-to-day thing and it could go downhill quick -- so I'm not going to rest on that. I'm still going to go out there every day and work hard on it, and I've got to just keep doing what I'm doing."
"To his credit, you watch him go out there to prepare to play every day," said Tracy. "There is meaning to everything he does out there -- whether he's taking batting practice or taking his ground balls. He's learned how to practice correctly in pregame, preparing himself to play."
Roster move: The Pirates placed catcher Humberto Cota on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain, retroactive to April 23.
The Bucs recalled catcher Ryan Doumit from Triple-A Indianapolis. Doumit was leading the International League in hitting with a .415 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 16 games. He was recently named International League Batter of the Week for April 16-22.
"I got a chance to play," Doumit opined. "I got into a groove and a rhythm and everything felt good."
Doumit was placed in the Pirates' starting lineup on Thursday afternoon after Ronny Paulino caught 16 innings on Wednesday night in the Pirates' 4-3 victory.
Doumit's showing at Indianapolis impressed Tracy.
"With the way Ryan Doumit's been swinging the bat," Tracy observed, "he goes back to the Minor Leagues and sends the message that he has just sent over the period of time that he's been down there. It's just terrific."
Doumit just wants the opportunity to play.
"I just want a chance to play, that's the bottom line," Doumit stated. "I don't care about any other stuff -- that's all out of my hands. Whoever makes the decision; it's all out of my hands. All I can control is how I play and how I go about playing."
Tracy indicated that he wouldn't be afraid to use Doumit.
"There's no question," Tracy said. "If there's opportunity for me to use him to get at-bats out of him, I won't be shy about that. Especially if he swings the bat anywhere near what he was doing in Indianapolis, I won't be shy with him."
Sanchez returns: Defending National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez was penciled back into the lineup on Thursday afternoon at second base.
He was scratched shortly before the first pitch Wednesday night because of irritation in his right eye. A foreign object -- the team did not specify -- entered his eye and needed to be removed by Dr. Ed Diamond, the team's optometrist.
Sanchez indicated that he first experienced discomfort in the eye during the recent road swing in Milwaukee. He was feeling better on Thursday and reported that a very small piece of metal was removed from his eye. He had no idea how the piece of metal got lodged there.
On deck: The Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a three-game series on Friday night at 7:05 ET. Right-hander Ian Snell (1-1, 2.00 ERA) will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Reds will counter with lefty Eric Milton (0-3, 4.32 ERA).
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.