Doumit decision will be interesting

No one has been with the Pirates longer than Ryan Doumit, a 1999 draft pick and a mainstay on the major league roster since 2005. And that's no small feat considering all the turnover created by the current management team.

But it remains to be seen how much longer that holds.

Doumit, 30, is about to complete the final guaranteed year of his contract, and all that remains are two club options worth a total of $15.5 million for 2012-13. It seems highly unlikely that the Pirates will trigger those options, and there is a chance that they would entertain talks toward a less expensive extension. Doumit would be open to that.

General manager Neal Huntington isn't tipping his hand this early, but he acknowledged over the weekend that the coming free agent market is "a bad one," and that could make keeping Doumit paramount.

The only other catchers in the Pirates' fold are Mike McKenry, who seems more a backup because of his weak bat, and newly acquired Matt Pagnozzi, who has the same profile. Chris Snyder missed most of the year because of back surgery, and surely the Pirates will not pick up his $6.75 million club option. Jason Jaramillo will be out of options and, thus, might not be in the plans anymore.

Doumit certainly has made his case of late -- he's having one of the best Septembers of anyone in baseball: He is batting .404 with a home run, seven doubles and six RBI. Going back to when he came off the disabled list Aug. 3, he is batting .328 with four home runs. For the season, he's at .300 with eight home runs.

But there's the rub: He missed two months because of a fractured ankle, and he has a long, deep history of injuries. That, plus inconsistent defense, will weigh heavily on management's call.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Ross Ohlendorf responded to his only good start of 2011 with another disastrous one, chased after two innings and seven runs in the Pirates' 8-5 loss at Arizona. That might have been Ohlendorf's last start with Pittsburgh, which is likely to non-tender him this offseason.

--1B Derrek Lee's exceptional September continued with a 3-for-4 day that included two RBI and a monster home run, high over the 413-foot marker in Chase Field. The Pirates would welcome keeping Lee as a free agent, but it's unclear what Lee wants to do.

--RF Garrett Jones continues to frustrate the Pirates with his up-and-down play. He had a dominant August, but he's right back to batting .182 over his last 20 games, including the 2-for-14 output on the road trip that ended Wednesday. That inconsistency will make offering him arbitration a tough call.

--C Chris Snyder told the Pirates he would be happy to return to Pittsburgh in 2012 under the terms of his existing $6.75 million club option. Given Snyder's history of back trouble, including missing four months this season, there is virtually no chance of that.

--RHP Gerrit Cole will be assigned to the Arizona Fall League, the Pirates confirmed. Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, is the last of the team's prospects to be assigned. He is in Bradenton, Fla., participating in the instructional league.

BY THE NUMBERS: 50 -- Consecutive games without an error for 2B Neil Walker, a career high. He ranks second in the National League at his position with a .992 fielding percentage, behind the .994 of San Diego's Orlando Hudson.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Did I do anything production-wise to earn that option? I don't really think I did. But it's there, and it was negotiated." -- C Chris Snyder, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he hopes the Pirates pick up his $6.75 club option for 2012 even though he missed almost all of 2011 because of back surgery.

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