Tabata hopes increased strength translates to the long ball
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jose Tabata packed on a few pounds this offseason, hoping it will help him pack more punch at the plate.
"Yeah, I'm bigger," Tabata said with a grin Wednesday morning, as he got ready for the third day of Pirates minicamp. "I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs."
Tabata has bulked up noticeably, boosting his weight to 212 pounds — and it's muscle, not fat.
"He's filled out a bit," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Remember, Jose's still only 22 years old."
Huntington believes Tabata has untapped home run potential and expects the left fielder to eventually hit upwards of 20 or more homers a year.
As a rookie last season, Tabata hit four homers in 441 plate appearances. In 2,088 plate appearances over six seasons in the minors, he hit a total of 29 home runs.
"The power is there," Tabata said. "I know it is. The ball was jumping off my bat in winter ball."
In December, Tabata played 14 games for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League. He hit .317 with one homer and a .439 slugging percentage in 57 plate appearances.
"It's a good feeling," Tabata said. "But I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can't let that happen."
Pirates Minicamp 1/12⁄11
Andrew McCutchen reports on Day 3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates minicamp Wednesday January 12, 2011 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.
2006: Yankees rookie ball ? 156 at-bats, 3 home runs, .314 batting average, .417 slugging percentage
2007: Charleston, A • 319, 5, .298, .420
2007: Tampa, A+ • 411, 5, .307, .392
2008: Pirates rookie ball • 11, 2, .455, 1.091
2008: Trenton, AA ? 294, 3, .248, .310
2008: Altoona, AA • 89, 3, .348, .562
2009: Altoona, AA • 228, 2, .303, .404
2009: Indianapolis, AAA • 134, 2, .276, .410
2010: Indianapolis, AAA • 148, 3, .308, .424
2010: Pirates ? 405, 4, .299, .400
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