ATLANTA -- Ryan Doumit joined Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday to begin what should be the final checkpoint in his return from a left ankle sprain. Based on the timeline the Pirates have laid out for Doumit, the catcher could be ready to return as early as the second part of next week.
After appearing in five rehab games with Class A Advanced Bradenton, Doumit was scheduled to catch seven innings in Indianapolis' games on Tuesday and Thursday. He will serve as the designated hitter on Wednesday and Friday before catching a full nine innings for the first time on Saturday.
Doumit will be limited to pinch-hit duty on Sunday, after which Doumit will catch back-to-back games next week. The Pirates will reevaluate his status in about a week. By the time Doumit returns from the ankle injury, he will have missed more than two months.
Bucs left to search for leadoff hitter
ATLANTA -- While the loss of Alex Presley has cost the Pirates one of their best hitters over the past month, it has also left the club searching for a fit for the leadoff spot.
Presley, who was placed on the disabled list with a left hand contusion on Monday, was a natural fit to hit at the top of the order and had batted there in all 20 games he played after being called up on June 28. Before Presley, that leadoff role had been handled by outfielder Jose Tabata.
But Tabata is on the DL, too, and that has left manager Clint Hurdle the challenge of getting creative with his batting order. Xavier Paul has batted first in the two games since Presley's injury and appears to be Hurdle's next-best option. With an on-base percentage of .275, though, Paul is hardly the ideal leadoff candidate.
Hurdle said Andrew McCutchen would probably be the next guy he would turn to, though Hurdle did not seem big on the idea of moving McCutchen out of the cleanup spot. Concerns about the batting order could force Hurdle to play Paul fairly regularly in left field until Tabata or Presley returns.
"We're just going to play it one game at a time," Hurdle said, when asked about Paul's expected playing time. "We'll give him some more at-bats tonight and see where he can take them. We'll see how we do as a team, look at the matchups and go from there."
McCutchen given green light on bases
ATLANTA -- The Pirates have encouraged Andrew McCutchen to run, giving him a green light to do so almost 100 percent of the time. And McCutchen knows he needs to run in order to maximize his game-changing speed.
Yet, before Monday, the outfielder had not attempted a stolen base since June 25. So why would a runner who had swiped 15 bases in 20 attempts in the first 74 games of the season stop running? It turns out that the only thing standing in McCutchen's way, he will admit, is himself.
"I've had opportunities to go. Sometimes I just don't," McCutchen said on Tuesday. "I need to start trusting my instincts more. I always want to be perfect every time I'm on the bag. I want everything to work and click right. But five times out of 10 that's not going to happen. I need to rely on my speed and rely on my instincts to go."
Perhaps Monday's steal of third base will be the jumpstart McCutchen needs to get running again.
The Pirates' coaching staff has encouraged McCutchen to keep taking chances, even if it means being thrown out from time to time. Manager Clint Hurdle also dismissed any idea that McCutchen's stalled stolen base attempts have anything to do with him moving out of the leadoff spot and down into the No. 3 or 4 place in the order.
McCutchen is finding that pitchers are doing a better job holding him on by incorporating slide steps and a quicker motion to the plate. But even that hasn't proven to be as much of an obstacle as McCutchen's own hesitancy.
"With Andrew, he's just got to push the envelope," Hurdle said. "Last night he found a zone and put a foot down to where he said, 'I've just got to go.' There's more in there. I believe last night he might have pushed through that uncomfortable zone and know that he needs to get that club back in his bag and put it to use."
McCutchen stole 33 bases in 43 attempts in 2010, which was his first full Major League season.
d'Arnaud limited with fracture in finger
ATLANTA -- Infielder Chase d'Arnaud will be limited to pinch hitting or pinch running duties on Tuesday as he continues to nurse a chipped fracture in his right pinky finger. The injury is not expected to lead to any time on the disabled list for d'Arnaud, who is now relegated to back-up duty after Monday's arrival of Pedro Alvarez.
d'Arnaud said he hurt his finger in the middle of Sunday's game, though he was able to finish out the 10-inning affair, which was capped by his own game-winning sacrifice fly. Swelling became the issue on Monday as it particularly affected d'Arnaud's ability to throw. Throwing was still somewhat of an issue on Tuesday, though d'Arnaud was able to take swings without much pain.
"It was tremendously better today," d'Arnaud said. "I took some hacks in the cage and felt OK. I imagine tomorrow it should be almost pain free. If it was on my left pinky, it would be easier to handle, but it's on my throwing hand."
Manager Clint Hurdle said, too, that he is optimistic that d'Arnaud could be cleared to play the field as early as Wednesday.
Ross Ohlendorf reported "feeling really good" after throwing a 50-pitch bullpen session at Turner Field on Tuesday afternoon. The Pirates have not announced what will be the next step in Ohlendorf's progression back from a right shoulder strain. The team's plans could be made public within the next 24 hours, manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates announced details for the organization's second annual Cruise for the Cure event, which will take place from July 29-31. The Pirate Parrot will be riding a motorcycle 350 miles from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to raise money for the Western Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Foundation. The Parrot will be making stops in Altoona and State College -- both homes to Minor League affiliates -- during his trek. Details about the route and donations can be found at www.pirates.com/cruise.
Catcher Michael McKenry had no residual issues after being struck on his wrist by a swing in Monday's game. McKenry had his hand looked at on Tuesday before being cleared to go into the lineup.
Pleased with the job McKenry has done since joining the club, the Pirates have opted to leave catcher Jason Jaramillo in Triple-A. Jaramillo, who recently came off the Minor League disabled list, can get regular at-bats with Indianapolis as opposed to sitting mostly on the bench with Pittsburgh.
Tuesday marked the three-year anniversary of a six-player trade that brought Jeff Karstens, Jose Tabata, Daniel McCutchen and Ohlendorf to the Pirates. The Yankees received Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte in return. The deal has turned out to be significantly more productive for Pittsburgh.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.