Jose Tabata is not in the Pirates’ starting lineup tonight against the Tigers. But it’s not your routine day of rest. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the young outfielder was benched for not hustling last night against the Nationals.
Tabata botched a pair of plays in left field, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was most concerned with his failure to bust it down the line on a tapper in front of the plate which resulted in an inning-ending double play in the top of the ninth.
“We’ve seen it happen a couple of times,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “They understand here that when that happens, there’s something else that’s going to happen: You’re going to sit with me and watch.”
“He understands there was a lesson to be learned,” Hurdle said. “He had a rough night all over the board. It happens sometimes to young players. Sometimes they need (to regain) focus. He understands the importance he carries at the top of the lineup, the intensity he’s got to play with.”
Hurdle had a closed-door chat with Tabata prior to tonight’s game. Assuming the message was received, he should be back in there tomorrow.
Like many of the Pirates’ hitters, Tabata is off to a slow start this season. The 23-year-old outfielder is hitting .235/.284/.356 with two homers, six RBI, five stolen bases and a .640 OPS through 140 plate appearances. He agreed to an extension last August which will keep him with the club through 2016 and includes options through 2019, so the Pirates are counting on him to be a major part of their future.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.