PITTSBURGH -- Jose Tabata's demotion was not surprising. The outfielder's game had developed some yips he now will have a chance to overcome in a less intense environment. So the only mildly surprising part of Tuesday's developments was the choice to replace him: Gorkys Hernandez, and not Starling Marte, who has been burning up the International League.
Once again, the Pirates exhibited extreme caution and patience with their top position prospect, the reigning International League Batter of the Week for his .484 average with 13 RBIs through Sunday.
Halfway through his first Triple-A season, Marte -- the 2011 Eastern League batting champ -- is batting .291, with 50 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 78 games in Indianapolis. He was recently named to the league's All-Star team.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle implied that the promotion of Marte was at least discussed internally, before the club decided to bring back Hernandez, the supreme defensive player who had his big league baptismal in a May 18-June 5 stint.
"We're well aware of what Starling is doing down there," Hurdle said. "He's played center field, he's played left field. We moved him to right field [Monday] night, just so he's going to have experience at all three areas. His development is headed in the right direction."
The club does not want to jeopardize that development with rash acceleration.
"We both tried to share some experiences with young players," Hurdle said, alluding to general manager Neal Huntington, "where you've been aggressive moving them, and the challenges that have come from that a year or two [later], versus being more patient with players.
"Is there ever a perfect equation to follow to get them here right on time, when you know you're 100 percent right? No, there's not," Hurdle added. "But there's a gut feel that you want to give them time, and you don't like to see them have to go through some of the challenges that Pedro [Alvarez] has had to go though, [Alex] Presley had to go though, and what Jose's going though right now."