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Doumit savors what may be final days with Bucs

Doumit savors what may be final days with Bucs

Doumit savors what may be final days with Bucs
MILWAUKEE -- Speaking prior to Wednesday's season finale against the Brewers, Ryan Doumit made it apparent that he has prepared for this to be his final game in a Pirates uniform.

Technically, Doumit's 13-year tenure in the organization -- he was a second-round pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft -- isn't officially over. The Pirates haven't declined his club option yet (though they will), and Doumit hasn't refused to negotiate a deal that could bring him back.

That said, Doumit, the longest-tenured player in the organization, did not sound optimistic about returning to Pittsburgh in 2012.

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"The last couple days I've just been trying to enjoy it," Doumit said. "I know the probability of me being back is probably slim, but I've just been trying to enjoy the last couple of days and soak it all in."

Doumit was asked if that skepticism was the result of any indication he had gotten from management, which maintains that Doumit is still being considered as an option beyond this season.

"That's just my indication," Doumit answered. "I haven't had any sort of talks with anybody about that. I'm just thinking about the big picture and just kind of weighing my options and see where I go from here.

"I'll go back and have some discussions with my agent, have some discussions with my fiancée to see what's best for us. I really haven't put that much thought into it."

If this is, indeed, it for Doumit in Pittsburgh, he will go out on the bench, still feeling the effects of being hit in the mask by a foul tip on Friday. Such is a cruel irony given how much injuries have marred Doumit's time with the Pirates.

He missed more than two months this summer after fracturing his ankle in a play at the plate and has been on the disabled list at least once in each of the past six seasons. Doumit has also dealt with several concussions.

The injury-prone label has been liberally attached to his name as a result, and that will factor into the Pirates' decision on whether or not to seriously make a run at re-signing the veteran catcher.

"In Ryan's case, there has been a history [of injuries] there," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's going to have an opportunity to go out and see what the [free-agent] market has. I don't think we want to close doors on anybody. We'll have to see which direction we need to go and economically what things can happen for the best of both parties."

Near the top of the Pirates' to-do list this offseason is to figure out what the club is going to do behind the plate next year. With Doumit and Chris Snyder set to be free agents, the Pirates don't have an obvious starting catcher candidate to replace them.

General manager Neal Huntington has said the club hasn't ruled out courting Doumit or Snyder during the free-agency period but that the Pirates will also scour other external options. The club's other internal candidates -- Michael McKenry, Jason Jaramillo and Matt Pagnozzi -- all seem better suited for a backup role.

Doumit finished the year batting .303 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .353 on-base percentage in 77 games. In his seven-year career with the Pirates, Doumit has posted a .271 average. He ranks third on the club's all-time list with 55 homers as a catcher.

A weak free-agent catching market should drive up Doumit's price this winter.

"I hope my legacy here isn't that I was always hurt because, for me, that's a tough pill to swallow," Doumit said. "I tried to give my best every day. I tried to be the guy that was reliable. The last couple years, in particular, I feel like I haven't been that guy with injuries and not playing up to my abilities."

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