Matt Sosnick, an agent for Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, said that his client was not benched last week for "dogging it" or sulking the over team's multiple trades of veteran players for prospects.
Doumit was pulled in the fifth inning of the Pirates' 8-6 loss Friday against the Brewers, and he was held out of the lineup in the team's 7-3 loss on Saturday. While neither Doumit nor manager John Russell would publicly discuss the matter other than for Russell to say, "That's between Ryan and myself," general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that Doumit was benched for a "disciplinary issue."
It had been speculated that the benching was a result of Doumit's overt displeasure over the trades of several of his close friends on the team, culminating with his failure to run out a fly ball in his final at-bat Friday.
"In reading a couple things, there's a lot being said about Ryan dogging it or not playing as hard as he could. Ryan's shocked about that," Sosnick told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sosnick said that Doumit "absolutely loves his manager," and that Doumit's outwardly dour disposition has been a result of his displeasure over an injury-plagued season rather than any moves made by management.
Doumit has batted just .206 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 40 games since returning on July 10 after being sidelined for more than two months with a broken right wrist, a return the agent believes might have come too soon.
"He came back because he's very competitive," Sosnick told the newspaper. "And the fact that his average has gone down, that he's not playing up to his standards, is what's bothered him the most by far. But there's no correlation between his numbers and his effort. He's not dogging anything. He cares a lot. When he goes 0 for 4, he wears it more than anyone else does. And the combination of not being successful, of being hurt and now having people question his work ethic, I think it's ticked him off. But, more than anything, it's really hurt his feelings."
The switch-hitter set career highs in 2008 with a .318 average, 15 homers and 69 RBIs in 116 games before signing a three-year contract extension worth $11.5 million.
According to Sosnick, Doumit has also been "shocked" by the suggestion that he's not happy playing in Pittsburgh.
"It is true that a lot of his closest friends on the team got traded." Sosnick told the newspaper. "But he understands it's a business. He'd be the first to tell you he makes as much money in a year as he'd hoped to make in his life."
The Post-Gazette, citing two sources, reported Wednesday that Doumit was benched when he slammed his batting helmet following his final at-bat Friday and it bounced up and hit teammate Luis Cruz in the head. Cruz had been struck in the head by a line drive earlier in that day during batting practice.
According to one of the paper's sources, some members of the coaching staff were already upset with Doumit prior to the helmet slamming incident.
Ed Eagle is a reporter and producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.