Tabata replaces Marte in left against Brewers
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle indicated earlier this week the Pirates might be more open to playing someone other than Starling Marte in left field at PNC Park, and that was the case Friday.
Jose Tabata got the start in left field, Hurdle said, because of his numbers against Brewers starter Kyle Lohse, but it also gave Marte a chance for further rest. Tabata started the Pirates’ final game in San Diego in left field, and Josh Harrison started there the game before.
“Starling went out today and did some really good early work,” Hurdle said before the series opener against Milwaukee. “We think we’re on to something. Another day of reps isn’t going to hurt him.”
Marte struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance Wednesday and was in an 0-for-19 slump entering Friday.
Tabata was 14 for 33 (.424) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and four RBIs entering Friday.
“It’s not like he goes 0 for 4 one game and 4 for 4 the next, and it looks good,” Hurdle said. “If you dig into it, it’s been consistent at-bats, quality at-bats.”
Welker undergoes Tommy John surgery
Right-hander Duke Welker got a second opinion on his sore right elbow from Dr. James Andrews earlier this week and underwent right elbow ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery Thursday. Dr. Andrew performed the surgery in Gulf Breeze, Fla.
Welker, 28, made his major league debut last year with the Pirates and did not give up a hit in two games (1 1⁄3 innings). He was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in nine appearances (11 innings) with Triple-A Indianapolis this season.
Mazzaro accepts assignment
Reliever Vin Mazzaro cleared waivers for a second time and accepted his outright assignment to Indianapolis. Hurdle said he wasn’t necessarily surprised Mazzaro passed unclaimed, because relievers tend to have an easier time making it through waivers, but he is happy Mazzaro is staying with the club.
“We encouraged him to go where you need to go, do what you need to do,” Hurdle said. “We’d love to have you back because we do feel optimistic that there will be an opportunity for you here again.”
The Pirates expect to be at or near capacity for all three games this weekend, including Saturday’s first Fan Jam of the season featuring the Goo Goo Dolls. They also sold out their last two home games against the Nationals.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.