A few years removed from a rousing rookie season, Jose Tabata was admittedly a "little frustrated" when his hot start to 2013 was interrupted by an injury.
And even though he still feels some effects of a left oblique strain that sent him to the disabled list May 25, Tabata said he is ready to contribute again. The Pirates activated him from the disabled list Wednesday and optioned pitcher Brandon Cumpton to Class AAA Indianapolis.
"You've got to keep going," Tabata said. "Whatever happened, happened. Today I'm here, and it's a good time because the team's playing well. I've got to do my job."
Tabata was hitting .272 with 5 doubles, 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in 81 at-bats before the injury sent him to the disabled list. It was shaping up to be his best season since he hit .299 with a .346 on-base percentage in 2010, his first season in the major leagues.
After playing Travis Snider for the majority of the time Tabata was on the disabled list, the Pirates will now turn to Tabata to spark the offense from right field.
Snider is hitting .229 this season with three home runs and hit .189 while Tabata was rehabilitating.
"We're going to give him every opportunity in his return to play to get out there," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He definitely could be that guy."
Injuries will always be a concern with Tabata, 24, who has battled several since his major league debut. He was sidelined as a minor leaguer in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and missed 91 major league games in 2011 with quad and wrist injuries.
"The injuries have continued to challenge him," Hurdle said.
Tabata said he played scared at the beginning of this rehab period for fear of aggravating his oblique injury. And he said he still doesn't feel 100 percent.
"A little tight sometimes, especially when I wake up in the morning," he said. "But after that, I feel great. When I come to the ballpark, I get my treatment and it's gone."
One day after throwing 55 pitches in a simulated game, A.J. Burnett (calf) said he hopes to avoid a rehab assignment.
"I don't know why I'd need to," Burnett said. "I didn't hurt my arm."
Hurdle said the biggest concern with any injured player is that they are sharp in their return to the major league club. He said he rarely sees that, even for players who make rehab starts.
"We'll talk," Hurdle said.
Burnett could be activated as soon as this weekend.
Good news for McDonald
A second look at James McDonald's injured right shoulder revealed no structural damage -- a relief for the injured starter.
"It was good news," he said. "It [stinks] that you have to be out, but it was good news for me to hear that."
McDonald visited Dr. Keith Meister Tuesday in Dallas, who agreed with the Pirates' initial diagnosis of the injury as a case of tendonitis and inflammation. He will take two weeks off throwing before the team determines the next step in his rehab.
His first attempt to return from the injury failed. He struggled in a six-start rehab assignment between stops in Indianapolis and Class AA Altoona but said he was told by doctors he did not rest his arm long enough before beginning to throw again.
McDonald has been on the disabled list since May 1 with the injury.
More injury news
The Pirates announced a handful of injury updates, most notably that right-handed pitcher Phil Irwin had ulnar nerve surgery in his right elbow Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh.
Additionally, Kyle McPherson, once considered a favorite to make the opening-day roster as the fifth starter, will visit Dr. James Andrews next week for another opinion on a forearm injury that has sidelined him since April.
Right-handed reliever Jared Hughes (shoulder inflammation) will fly today -- coincidentally, his 28th birthday -- to Bradenton, Fla., and soon begin a rehab assignment.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 4, 2013 4:00 AM