Notes: Bautista not typical leadoff man

Notes: Bautista not typical in top spot

CINCINNATI -- Jose Bautista's career numbers coming into this season aren't exactly the type of numbers you would associate with a leadoff hitter.

Three career stolen bases, 56 walks and nearly three times as many strikeouts.

It's a good thing for the Pirates that manager Jim Tracy doesn't read too deeply into numbers.

Monday marked Bautista's seventh straight game batting first for the Pirates, a move that came at the beginning of this road trip when Tracy opted to move outfielder Chris Duffy to the second spot to try to improve Duffy's production.

Bautista may not have stolen a base yet, but he has been on base at least once in all six games and has scored a run in all but one. On Sunday afternoon, he started a five-run Pirates first inning with a walk, before finishing the day with three hits and three runs scored.

"To try and jump-start something, you don't care what it looks like," Tracy said of his decision to move Bautista up in the order. "In my case, it's working. There are a lot of things intriguing about Jose Bautista as a leadoff hitter if he had running speed. He doesn't. But the son of a gun certainly knows how to get on base."

Like most of the team, Bautista has moved around the lineup like a Mexican jumping bean as Tracy has used the first two months of the season to test out different combinations to try to get a slow-starting offense going.

Bautista has hit in six places in the lineup, which he admitted has made it hard for him to find a consistent mental approach at the plate each day. Different spots in the order require different approaches, and Bautista hasn't had the luxury of knowing where he will be from day-to-day until now.

"It's an adjustment," Bautista said. "It doesn't make it harder. Maybe being in one spot on a daily basis will increase my consistency."

Though Bautista lacks the speed that is typically an integral part of the prototype leadoff hitter, he has done what the Pirates lacked too often early on from that spot -- get on base. His .351 on-base percentage is an intriguing stat, and he has drawn 21 walks, while minimizing his strikeouts this year to 25.

"I know that leadoff guys are guys who are supposed to steal bases, but before that, you have to get on," the third baseman said. "I know that I can do that on a consistent basis. Maybe [I need to] just pick and choose the right time to steal some bags. As long as I keep getting on base, I always need to improve on situational hitting obviously, and drive in runs when they're there."

Bautista hasn't been the only Pirate who has been shuffled around this year. Until this road trip, it was hard to guess what the Pittsburgh lineup card would read from one day to the next. Tracy has used eight different players in the seventh spot in the order, and six different names in the fifth, sixth and eighth spots.

But while there is always room for another shuffle, Tracy seems to like what he's found. Since the move a week ago, the team has averaged more than seven runs a game. So far, there's no reason to fix something that isn't broken.

"It's worked," Tracy said. "[Bautista's] getting on base, and Duff [is] doing what he does in the two spot. We're going to leave it like that, because we are getting people on base."

Doumit update: Ryan Doumit is a few more steps closer to returning after he left Saturday's game after being hit in the head behind the plate on Cincinnati's Ryan Freel's backswing.

Doumit took live batting practice on Monday for the first time since being hit, and he continued to show no looming symptoms of a concussion. He also participated in some running and throwing drills.

Tracy said that Doumit appeared healthy enough to be used off the bench on Monday if necessary, and that the Pirates catcher and right fielder should be available to start again during the Bucs' home series against San Diego starting Tuesday.

Erupting offense: The 14-10 slugfest between the Pirates and Reds on Sunday set all sorts of Pittsburgh batting marks for the season -- some they were glad to set and others that they would not like to see broken again anytime soon.

While the 14 runs were a new season high for the Bucs, so were the 10 that they allowed, matching an opponent's output by Los Angeles and Milwaukee earlier this year. The Pirates also set a new high in consecutive hits in a game (five) and matched their mark for most extra-base hits in a game (six).

The 24 total runs also set a record for the most runs scored at Great American Ball Park, bettering the 23 the Reds and Cubs put on the scoreboard on Opening Day last year.

On deck: The Pirates return home for a seven-game homestand that will begin Tuesday night at 7:05 ET at PNC Park against the Padres, who are tied for first place in the National League West. Tom Gorzelanny (5-3, 2.51 ERA) will take the mound for Pittsburgh, opposite San Diego's David Wells (2-2, 4.85).

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.