It appears Jose Nicolas Tabata‘s chance has come. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder from El Tigre, Anzoategui, Venezuela is going to get every opportunity to win the starting job for the Pittsburgh Pirates in right field and become an everyday player.
With no else really stepping up to do the job, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle has indicated Tabata will get ample playing time after returning from an oblique injury that had him sidelined since the end of May.
The Pirates, who thought enough of Tabata to sign him to a six-year deal last year, are hoping the once-and-still promising prospect will live up to the potential they envisioned when they first acquired Tabata in a trade from the New York Yankees back in July of 2008. Back then, Tabata was rated as a top-Yankee prospect who could do it all. At the age of just 17 and in his first year of professional ball, Tabata led the Yankees farm system in batting average when he hit .314 for the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2005. Since his acquisition by the Pirates though, injuries and “unsatisfactory” play have dotted the 24-year-old’s play. Last summer, Tabata was sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis to “find a way to help him reignite his game”.
Since returning from his recent oblique injury, Tabata has batted .357 with a double and a triple in 14 at-bats. With up-and-coming rookie prospect Josh Bell projected to be a starting outfield soon enough, Tabata may be running out of opportunities and needs to take advantage of this current one the Pirates are giving him.