MILWAUKEE -- If outfielder Jose Tabata appears to dawdle around the bases, he insists it is not because of a lack of effort.
Tabata felt some tightness and cramping in his left leg in the Pirates' 10-4 victory against the Chicago Cubs May 27, and the discomfort has not disappeared.
"The tightness kind of comes and goes," manager Clint Hurdle said.
"It's not gone. From inning to inning, we try to keep our pulse on it.
"The other night, he made a play in left field where he flat out went and got a ball. Then, he hit a ground ball to second and got down in six seconds. That tweaks me a little bit."
He asked Tabata about the play. Tabata told him he felt his leg tighten coming out of the box and didn't want to push it.
Hurdle said Tabata reminded him: "You asked me to give you what I can give you when I can give it. I said I promise you that's what I will do."
"There's going to be some trust involved on my spot," Hurdle said, "because we're trying to get a kid to play through a little bit of an injury, and he hasn't done that before. Most times, it's a red flag, and we've got to shut him down."
In addition to the injury that has slowed him out of the batter's box, Tabata has hit into some hard luck this season. His batting average of balls in play is a career-low .252, well below the league average that hovers near .300 annually.
Entering Saturday, he had not struck out since May 22, but hit .231 (6 for 26) in that span.
"A little frustrating," Tabata said. "The last couple weeks, I've hit it very good and -- out."
He provided a spark in the Pirates' 8-2 victory Friday night by hitting two doubles, driving in three runs and scoring once.
"It was good to see," Hurdle said. "He adds a dynamic when he can play at that level."
Clint Barmes returned to the starting lineup Saturday for the first time since May 28, and Hurdle hopes some time away from the game will help the veteran shortstop right his season.
Before Saturday, Barmes was hitting .170.
"It's time to get him out there and see where we are," Hurdle said.
Hurdle managed Barmes for parts of seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies and said he believes Barmes, who signed to a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Pirates in the offseason, will improve offensively.
"I've got to get him back in the backyard," Hurdle said. "That's [where] we've got to get him, just playing in the backyard again."
Jeff Karstens (right shoulder inflammation) allowed six runs -- four unearned -- and six hits in five innings of a rehabilitation start Friday night for Class AAA Indianapolis.
Karstens said Saturday he felt good, but he will make at least one more rehab start for Indianapolis, Hurdle said. He will pitch Wednesday against Pawtucket, throwing 100 pitches.
"All his pitches were working with the exception of the slider," Hurdle said.
Hurdle said that means Brad Lincoln, scheduled to make a spot start Tuesday, could make another start for the Pirates before Karstens returns from the disabled list.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published June 3, 2012 12:00 AM