The Pirates' Neil Walker beats Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond to second base before continuing to third base on Nationals catcher Will Nieves' throwing error during the fourth inning of Wednesday's game at Nationals Park in Washington.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WASHINGTON -- Jose Tabata was moved to tears.
First, upon being told by Frank Kremblas, manager of the Pirates' Class AAA Indianapolis affiliate, late Tuesday night that he was headed to the big leagues.
Then, upon retelling the story Wednesday afternoon at his stall at Nationals Park ...
"I just feel right now, like, wow," Tabata said, smiling. "I'm excited. I'm happy with the job I did. And ... I don't know how to explain how I feel."
He continued to try, remembering being summoned into Kremblas' office.
"Frank played with me a little bit, telling me, 'You didn't play good today. What happened?' " Tabata said, laughing at the thought now after he had reached base safely four times in the game. "So, Frank said, 'Open the envelope.' I said, 'Why? What happened with me?' "
Inside was a plane ticket to D.C.
"I said, 'Wow, no way.' My first thought was about my mom. She talked to me every day, kept telling me, 'Come on, baby, you can do it.' I cried a little bit."
He welled up then, too.
"And I'm here right now."
His impact on lineup
Tabata, 21, had been Indianapolis' leadoff man all season and, as his reaching base safely three times Wednesday night bolstered, it was not hard to see why he batted leadoff right away.
But, as manager John Russell explained, there was a secondary reason in that Andrew McCutchen could drop from leadoff to No. 3, where he had a .336 average and four of his seven home runs.
For now, the top three will be Tabata, Neil Walker and McCutchen, with Garrett Jones at cleanup and Ryan Doumit fifth.
"There might be a time when we move Cutch up to leadoff and Jose to No. 2, but I think we'll go with this," Russell said. "Having Jose, Neil and Cutch up there, that should create some chances for Garrett and Ryan."
Tabata, 8 pounds lighter and visibly faster than last year, had 25 steals at Indianapolis to go with his .309 average and a .373 on-base percentage that came from good strike-zone recognition and what Russell and others have called "great bat control."
"I like to go first," Tabata said. "Just get on base and use my speed."
Alvarez not forgotten
Pedro Alvarez, the only one of the four prospects at Indianapolis yet to arrive, might have sent a message to management Wednesday by falling a single shy of the cycle in a 5-3 victory against Pawtucket: He went 3 for 4 with his 12th home run, fourth triple and 14th double, as well as two RBIs for a total of 50.
"We know he's doing some very good things, developing there," Russell said of the near-cycle. "We're not going to pick a date. We want to make sure he's ready for this step, to make the adjustments he'll need to make when he gets here. He's getting close."
Eveland to pen
Dana Eveland was acquired in a trade last week with an aim of upgrading the rotation, but he was sent to the bullpen Wednesday after just one start.
Russell announced that Jeff Karstens will take the next fifth-starter's spot Sunday and that Eveland, for now, will pitch in relief.
"I think Jeff's deserved the right to stay in the rotation," Russell said. "He's pitched in some big games for us and done well."
• Doumit, out a third game because of concussion-like symptoms, resumed baseball-type activity with a round of long-toss and could be cleared to return tonight, Russell said.
• Infielder Bobby Crosby rejoined the team after what he called "a rough couple of days" with a stomach illness in Pittsburgh.
• Reliever Jack Taschner, designated for assignment to clear space for Lincoln, has rejected the Pirates' offer to report to Indianapolis, he told the Journal-Times of Racine, Wis., his hometown paper. He will wait at home in hopes of being sent to another team.
• The Pirates learned they are scheduled to face Armando Galarraga, architect of the Imperfect Game, Sunday in Detroit.