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Hurdle benches Tabata for lack of hustle

| Friday, May 18, 2012, 6:14 p.m.

DETROIT — By jogging to first base Thursday against the Washington Nationals, Jose Tabata ran himself out of the Pirates' lineup for the game Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

With runners at first and second and one out in the ninth inning Thursday, Tabata tapped the ball a couple of feet in front of the plate. He got a slow start out of the batter's box, thinking the ball might be foul. But even when it was obvious the Nationals were turning an inning-ending double play, Tabata ambled down the line.

“We've seen it happen a couple of times,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “They understand here that when that happens, there's something else that's going to happen: You're going to sit with me and watch.”

Tabata also muffed two catches in left field against the Nationals.

He misplayed an Adam LaRoche deep fly ball, which caromed off the wall for an RBI triple. “The ball sliced,” Tabata said. “I didn't have much chance.”

An inning later, Tabata dropped a fly ball hit by Danny Espinosa, who was credited with a double.

Hurdle was forgiving about the defensive lapses: “He got turned around on one ball and clanked another. He's human.”

Last night, Nate McLouth started in left field and Garrett Jones was in right. Before the game, Hurdle pulled Tabata into his office for a closed-door chat.

“He understands there was a lesson to be learned,” Hurdle said. “He had a rough night all over the board. It happens sometimes to young players. Sometimes they need (to regain) focus. He understands the importance he carries at the top of the lineup, the intensity he's got to play with.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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