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Hurdle: Tabata could be looking at demotion to AAA

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Jose Tabata gets high-fives after hitting a fifth-inning home run against the Astros at PNC Park on May 12, 2012.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012, 1:41 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA - If Jose Tabata doesn't soon resolve the issues that have led to an inconsistent 2012, the next step could be a stint in Triple-A Indianapolis, manager Clint Hurdle said today.

Tabata did not start in the series finale today against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. He was 3 for 13 in the first three games, mixing in a home run with some poor at-bats.

Defensively, the outfielder was charged with two errors in Monday's game and on two separate occasions let a ball bounce yards in front of him, costing his team runs.

Hurdle said he can't say whether Tabata's problems are mental, but the time has come to figure it out.

"One thing you can bring every day is your attitude and your effort. I demand that, and I think we've had some disconnects with that," he said. "I think subconsciously, in Jose's case, there is a fear of reinjuring himself.

"But it's like a pitcher worrying about his shoulder. If you're going to get hurt, you're going to get hurt. You have to play. We've talked about it. The talking part is over. He needs to play. We've worked through this about as far as we can. It's time."

Hurdle said there's no deadline in mind for a possible trip to Indianapolis for Tabata.

Tabata signed a six-year contract extension with three club options shortly after coming off the disabled list last August. At the time, despite missing time from late June through mid-August with a quadriceps injury, he was batting .267 with a .356 on-base percentage, 15 stolen bases, 17 RBI and 44 runs scored in 75 games.

This season, through 68 games, he's batting .226 with a .288 on-base percentage and has eight stolen bases, 11 RBI and 28 runs scored.

"He has had a very challenging season," Hurdle said. "He's been very inconsistent. We've seen good streaks, or, I should say, we've seen good things. ... It's an area of concern, and he knows it."

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