SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Wood had welcomed a fresh beginning from the get-go.
Upon being claimed off waivers by the Pirates back in April, Wood arrived eager to get the perspective of a new hitting coach and intent upon proving that it was too early to label him as a top-prospect-turned-bust.
He and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie got to work almost immediately, spending hours dissecting Wood's swing and talking about ways to make it more fluid. By the time the team traveled to New York to face the Mets in a late May series, Wood knew it was time to incorporate the changes and not turn back.
"That's when I started attacking it, realizing I couldn't go anywhere but up," Wood said. "It was time to focus. I came over here with a fresh start and had a chance to just start over from the ground up."
While the changes to Wood's swing might not be all that noticeable to the casual baseball fan, he has completely retooled his mechanics and his approach. It appears to be working, too, as Wood has hit .311 in 18 games since the All-Star break. His home run total is up to seven after a three-run blast Sunday, and the infielder is spraying balls to places other than just left field again. That, manager Clint Hurdle said, might be the best sign of all.
"When he showed up here, there was just a lot of pull side to the swing," Hurdle said. "His swing looks nothing now like it did when he showed up. He's seen how much better it looks, how much better plate coverage he's got. He's honestly self-evaluated where he is at this point in his career and is making proper adjustments."
It hasn't hurt, either, that Wood has gotten fairly regular playing time since the All-Star break. He has started 13 games since July 15. He has upped his season average from .204 to .229 since the start of the second half.
"Getting consistent at-bats on a more regular basis is only going to help the timing with your swing," Wood said. "When things go bad is when you may not have the ABs, you get four at-bats in a week, don't get a hit and you try to change. That's the tough part."
Pirates mulling right field for Tabata
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jose Tabata's rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis will include playing time in right field, manager Clint Hurdle revealed Monday.
The fact that the Pirates are prioritizing right field for Tabata suggests that the club is envisioning a scenario where Tabata could slide into right field and Alex Presley into left once both come off the disabled list. Hurdle wouldn't talk in absolutes about such an outfield alignment, but it would certainly give the Pirates a way to have Tabata and Presley both in the lineup on an everyday basis.
"It could be something that could come into play that we've talked about," Hurdle said. "There is also a heritage and a lineage that is there that I think he wants to embrace in PNC Park. He's got an arm that can play out there."
Tabata has never played right field at PNC Park before, though he played the position extensively in the Minors.
In his first two rehab games with Indianapolis, Tabata went 2-for-5 with two walks. He played left in both games. Tabata served as Indianapolis' designated hitter Monday and will begin his venture in right field Tuesday.
The Pirates, who have not announced a timetable for Tabata's return, will re-evaluate the outfielder's status after the big league club wraps up its series in San Francisco on Wednesday. Tabata has been on the disabled list with a left quad strain since June 28.
Presley, who is recovering from a left hand contusion, is scheduled to begin a rehab stint with Class A Advanced Bradenton this week.
Cedeno sits another day to sharpen focus
SAN FRANCISCO -- Following a troublesome defensive performance Saturday and a benching Sunday, Ronny Cedeno was kept out of the lineup again Monday as the shortstop works through some focus issues.
Cedeno's focus has wavered throughout his two-plus years in Pittsburgh, and a lapse in it is something manager Clint Hurdle has shown he has little patience for. He benched Cedeno back in April because of the same concern about a lack of focus.
The veteran shortstop made three defensive flubs in Saturday's game, which turned into a 13-2 loss to the Padres. Cedeno's slow transfer and throw to first on a two-out routine grounder cost the Pirates a run in the fourth. He committed fielding errors in the eighth and ninth as well, with one of those also leading to a run.
"We just kind of need to reboot him," Hurdle said. "There was a time that Ronny was probably playing the best shortstop in the game. We told him how important it is to have him in the lineup playing up to his potential. At the same time, when that's not there, it's like anybody else. We're going to find another guy to come in there and give him an opportunity to reconnect and get back out there."
Hurdle said he'll take a "day-to-day" approach in determining how long he will use Brandon Wood in place of Cedeno at short.
Since coming off the disabled list on July 22, Cedeno is batting .217 in 11 games. He has committed four errors in that span after accruing only five in his first 69 games this season.
Prospect Wilson shifted to Triple-A bullpen
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pirates have moved left-handed pitching prospect Justin Wilson out of the rotation and into Triple-A Indianapolis' bullpen. That decision, however, does not mean that the Pirates have given up on Wilson's potential as a big league starter.
Wilson began the year in Triple-A, where he raced out of the gates with a 2.25 ERA in his first four starts. It's been a struggle at times since, though, for the 2008 fifth-round pick. He has posted a 4.65 ERA and walked 48 in the 18 games that followed.
That prompted the Pirates to take a step back with Wilson by unplugging him from of the rotation. He made his second relief appearance of the year Monday, pitching two scoreless innings in the team's 2-1 win.
"We will probably look to pitch him out of the 'pen for a while," director of player development Kyle Stark said. "This is not necessarily a permanent move, but it is an attempt to give him a blow, work on his command, and earn that spot back in the rotation."
First baseman Derrek Lee returned to the lineup Monday after missing five games with a left hand contusion. Lee was cleared to come back after taking batting practice Sunday and Monday without any discomfort in that hand.
Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (right shoulder strain) will make his final rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday.
Chase d'Arnaud (fractured right pinky finger) began his rehab stint with Class A Advanced Bradenton on Sunday. He went 0-for-3 with a stolen base. d'Arnaud had one hit in three at-bats in a game with the Marauders on Monday.
The Pirates' short-season State College affiliate had two players -- catcher Samuel Gonzalez and outfielder Carlos Mesa -- selected for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. Mesa, who will be unable to play due to injury, has batted .287 this season. Gonzalez ranks eighth in the NYPL with a .319 average. The game will be played on Aug. 16.
Bradenton third baseman Elevys Gonzalez was named the Florida State League's hitter of the week after going 12-for-22 with two homers and eight RBIs last week. He is hitting .314 in 102 games with Bradenton this season.
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.