PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' defense is becoming extremely appreciative of what Phil Dumatrait is accomplishing on the mound these days.
They like how he wastes little time in between pitches, and they love the way he handles himself with a quiet confidence. In return, the defense has rewarded the lefty with steady, and sometimes stunning, glove work behind him.
"I think everyone has confidence when he's on the mound," Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "I know for a fact that everyone on this team wants him out there and he wants to be out there."
LaRoche and the rest of the infield played phenomenal on Sunday afternoon in the Pirates' win over the Diamondbacks. LaRoche had an over-the-shoulder catch, middle infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson both had beautiful backhanded plays and third baseman Jose Bautista remained steady with multiple putouts.
"He's not going to be scared of anybody," LaRoche said. "He may walk some guys, but it's not intentionally out of the zone. It doesn't matter who's hitting, he has no problem throwing -- even in fastball counts -- a heater right there and saying, 'Hit it.'
"But on defense, you know what you're going to get. He's been excellent."
Team confidence is something Dumatrait lacked last season when he was a member of the Reds organization. He went 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA in six starts, giving up 39 hits in only 18 innings pitched. The Reds decided to cut ties with Dumatrait shortly after. And the Pirates were waiting with open arms.
"It was a small sample, you know," Dumatrait said of his play with the Reds. "I had six starts and they didn't go that well, and they had to make a decision. They chose to let me go. They gave me a chance, but it wasn't a big chance.
"Here, when they claimed me off waivers, it kind of sent me a message to me like, 'We want you in this organization.' It definitely lit a fire for me in the offseason when I did get claimed. I'm fortunate to be here."
Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.