06/03/12 12:39 AM ET
Karstens to make another rehab start
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Tabata able to play despite left leg issue
MILWAUKEE -- Six days after leaving a game with discomfort in his left leg, Jose Tabata continues to deal with the issue on a daily basis. The outfielder, who has become a catalyst atop the lineup, hasn't missed a game -- but neither has manager Clint Hurdle missed any chances to hold his breath when Tabata is on the move."The tightness kinda comes and goes -- and is not gone. We're keeping a pulse on it, inning by inning," Hurdle said. "We're trying to get the kid to play through an injury." The Pirates don't have a spare experienced outfielder. Since the release of Nate McLouth, the fourth outfielder is Gorkys Hernandez, a defensive specialist whose big league experience consists of 10 plate appearances. Beyond the mere limitations of the roster, Tabata can be a game-changing talent, as he showed in Friday night's opener of the series at Miller Park. In the 8-2 win over the Brewers, Tabata went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and a three-run double. "I thought he ramped his game up from the start," Hurdle said of the 23-year-old. "He adds another dynamic when he plays at that level." Tabata has his critics. But those who have recently questioned his effort on the field are probably unaware that he has been consciously trying to avoid aggravating the left-leg injury. Hurdle's own curiosity was recently raised when Tabata took six seconds to run to first on a routine grounder. "That tweaks me a little bit," the manager said. "But he told me that coming out of the box it felt a little tight, and he didn't want to push it. He said, 'You asked me to give you what I can, when I can give it. I promise you that's what I'll do.' He's being challenged." Since Tabata moved into the leadoff spot on May 3, the Pirates are 16-11 heading into Saturday night's game against the Brewers.
The Last Word
"Who knows where they are ... that's not as important to me as where we are."
-- Bucs manager Clint Hurdle, on the Brewers' and his team's relative struggles to overcome the early-season problems posed by some underachieving players.
Let the record show that the last runs driven in against Johan Santana -- back on May 21, two shutouts (one a no-hitter) ago -- were by Michael McKenry, whose seventh-inning two-run homer that night sparked the Pirates to a comeback 5-4 win over the Mets.
"I hope he keeps pitching great and saves that note longer," said McKenry, adding, "I'm happy for him. It's nice to see one of the good guys accomplish something like that." When the Cubs' James Russell picked up his first career save last week, he joined dad Jeff in a rare club that also includes Jason Grilli and his father, Steve: father-son combinations each with saves in Major League history. Steve Grilli earned three saves in 36 appearances with the 1976 Tigers. The two other combos are Julio and Jaime Navarro, and Pedro Borbon Senior and Junior. The Bucs' Friday night win was their fourth straight in a series-opening game -- after they had dropped 11 of their first 14 series openers. Garrett Jones batted second Saturday night, the first time he'd been listed in that slot this season. However, Jones was frequently used as the No. 2 hitter last season, and had his best success there, hitting .286 in 28 games.
Matt Hague (1-for-4) maintained his streak of hitting in every game since his recall from Indianapolis, now eight games long.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.