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Pirates notebook: Tabata OK'd to return to play

| Thursday, April 17, 2014, 6:36 p.m.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said outfielder Jose Tabata does not have a concussion, and after being cleared to play, he got a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning against Milwaukee on Thursday at PNC Park.

“He went through a battery of tests (Thursday), starting with the doctor,” Hurdle said. “They do the concussion test, the computer test. Passed that. Ran on the field, went in the cage, reflexes, all the different activities we could run him through.”

On Wednesday, Tabata ran into the left-field scoreboard at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park while making a catch of Brayan Pena's drive in the fifth inning during the Pirates' 4-0 loss. The immediate report was that he showed mild concussion symptoms, and he was pulled from the game.

Up there hacking

The Brewers like to swing the bat early and often. Entering Thursday's game, Milwaukee led MLB in fewest pitches per plate appearance and first-pitch swing percentage and was second in fewest called third strikes.

The approach isn't for everyone, but the Brewers took an MLB-best 11-4 record into the game.

“They're aggressive,” said Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton, Friday's scheduled starter. “Shoot, their leadoff guy, Carlos Gomez, he's swinging. And it's not like he just swings blindly. It's not strange because he's talented, but he gets to some pitches and hits them pretty hard for where those pitches are located.”

A 2013 All-Star, Gomez led off in one game last season. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he doesn't even look like a leadoff hitter. But he can run and effortlessly moved into the slot after Milwaukee traded Norichika Aoki to Kansas City. Gomez was hitting .328 with four homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.014 OPS.

Good matchup

Even though he had yet to win, Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez took a 1.29 ERA in three starts into Thursday's game. But his mound opponent, Yovani Gallardo, was even better. The Brewers' right-hander was 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA.

“You might see five different pitches from him,” Hurdle said. “Two starts ago against Boston, he threw a game where there wasn't a swing and miss. Disciplined team, yeah, but that's a lot of strikes, and you're getting good hitters to put the ball in play, not hard. That's professionalism at its best. It's kind of like mastery of what you do.”

Gallardo throws a fastball, slider, curve and cutter, and he occasionally sneaks in a changeup.

“And he's going to work both sides of the plate,” Hurdle said, adding the way to deal with that is to pick one side and look for a pitch there. “You have to. But it's hard.”

Program note

Because of Penguins telecasts on Root, Pirates games Saturday and Wednesday will be broadcast on MLB Network. The Pirates play the Brewers at 7 p.m. Saturday and the Reds at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com.

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