Tabata facing his challenges with help from Silverio
LOS ANGELES -- After the Pirates hired coach Luis Silverio last winter as their first base and outfield coach, the first player he met was Jose Tabata.
Tabata was training in Bradenton, Fla., and specifically requested that Silverio visit him. Over three days at Pirate City, Silverio put Tabata through a series of outfield drills. Silverio also spent much time in deep conversations with Tabata.
As the season went on, Silverio became a mentor for Tabata, for matters on and off the field.
"He talks with me like a father would," Tabata said Saturday. "We talk about the game, playing the outfield, my life -- everything. I look at him like he's my second father."
This is a crucial time for Tabata, 23, both as a player and as a man. He is still establishing himself in what looks to be a promising career as the Pirates' everyday right fielder. He also must deal with the challenges that come from having a $14.75-million contact, a new wife and a baby on the way.
"Jose is a pretty young, immature player, and he's growing up in the big leagues," Silverio said. "He comes from a split family in Venezuela, so he's been missing a father figure for a long time. I've tried to be there for him, any way I can. I've tried to let him know he has somebody he can trust."
When Tabata signed his contract last month, Silverio was quick to offer straightforward advice.
"I told him that a lot more people are going to come at him now that he's got money," Silverio said. "He's going to have to make some choices. The money is only there for so long. Be smart about it. Take care of your future first, then look around and see what you can do for others."
Silverio, 54, has five children, including teenage sons Louis and Luis Jr. He spent the last 35 years as a player and coach in the Kansas City Royals organization.
"I consider myself a family-type person," Silverio said. "It's gratifying to know I'm helping to keep the kid (Tabata) away from trouble. I would do it for anybody on the club, but particularly for him. He's had some issues in the past, so I've tried to be there as much as I can for him."
During spring training in 2009, Tabata's first wife, Amalia Tabata Pereira, was arrested for kidnapping a 2-month-old girl, which she tried to pass off as Tabata's daughter. Pereira, who's 23 years older than Tabata, is serving a 24-year jail term.
Tabata, who divorced Pereira in 2010, got married last winter in his native Venezuela. His wife, Auromar, is living with him Pittsburgh. The couple is expecting a daughter, whom they will name Barbara, at the end of this month.
"I'm very excited," Tabata said. "And a little nervous."
It's been a difficult season for Tabata. His stats are down slightly from his debut season, and he's suffered leg and hand injuries. The Pirates last week decided to shut him down for the final two weeks of the season.
"I'm frustrated a little bit (by the injuries)," Tabata said. "I haven't had too much luck this year. I wanted to finish the season playing. I need to focus for next year. I'm working hard to get in shape for next season."