Tabata singles in first big league at-bat

Tabata singles in first big league at-bat

WASHINGTON -- Jose Tabata has altered Pittsburgh's lineup a little at the top.

Tabata got an infield single during his first Major League at-bat against the Nationals on Wednesday, but was left stranded at third base.

Manager John Russell placed Tabata in the leadoff spot and moved Andrew McCutchen back to third. The Pirates kept Neil Walker at No. 2, where he's been for all 13 games since coming to the team from Triple-A Indianapolis.

McCutchen has hit throughout the top of the order this season. He's batted first 11 times, second in 17 games and third 29 times. McCutchen has led off in the past nine games but isn't concerned about moving.

"With Jose being the type of player he is, he can be a leadoff-type guy, as well as he can hit later in the lineup," McCutchen said. "He's going to add a lot to the lineup. I'm looking forward to being able to hit behind him, and for him to be on base, and for me to drive him in."

Russell now has some good options for the top of the lineup, but McCutchen batting third could give Pittsburgh some real help, since the Pirates keep looking for someone there.

"Not really having that three hole hitter for us right now, we feel like Andrew is the guy that can fill that spot for us very well," Russell said. "He's right now one of the most accomplished hitters in our lineup, as far as driving the ball and getting on base."

The Pirates are looking to get a jolt on offense as they've struggled all season. They came into Wednesday's game with a .236 batting average -- last in the National League.

But if Tabata can hit in the leadoff spot, and Walker and McCutchen keep producing, the Pirates' offense should start packing more punch.

"We're going to have a lot of fun with it," McCutchen said.