Dumatrait ready for shot at rotation

Dumatrait ready for try at rotation

WASHINGTON -- Phil Dumatrait won't have a second chance to make a first impression.

But when he takes the mound Friday, a good outing will make his results from last year easy to forget.

Dumatrait gets his first start of the season in game two of a road series against the Nationals. Last year, he went 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds.

"To be honest, I was kind of intimidated a bit," he said. "I was pitching away from guys."

Since being claimed off of waivers by the Pirates, he's been used in long relief, tallying 10 appearances this year with nine earned runs and 13 strikeouts.

The difference between those two stat lines has been his aggressiveness.

"I feel that this year, I've attacked guys and attacked the strike zone," he said.

Now with the release of Matt Morris, Dumatrait will get a chance to take the mound as a starter once again. Manager John Russell believes the lefty is up to the challenge.

"He's been in tough situations, and I think he'll be ready to go," Russell said. "It's a different year for him."

Moving out of the bullpen means that the team will keep an eye on his arm to prevent an injury from wear and tear. Dumatrait has been used as a long reliever, meaning he's used to throwing multiple innings, and he's been stretching his arm out in recent days to prepare for Friday's outing.

Still, the team won't look for him to throw a complete game. Russell said that he'll look for Dumatrait to go "deep into the game," something the pitcher said won't be a problem.

"I started most of Spring Training," he said. "[I'll throw] maybe not 100 pitches, but I feel like I'll be able to throw at least 80 and feel fine."

Adding Dumatrait to the rotation creates a situation where the Bucs will have left-handed pitchers start four consecutive games, beginning with Zach Duke's start on Thursday night. The last time that happened was in May 1994.

Not that it will give the Washington Nationals any sort of advantage -- the Bucs' opponent has three consecutive lefties lined up as well.

Dumatrait will focus on making one of those starts a victory for the Pirates. And if he picks up the win, it would be the first of his Major League career.

He's confident that he has the right formula for victory: throwing hard and being aggressive.

Michael Phillips is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.