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Like those before him, Tabata can gain from demotion

Like those before him, Tabata can gain from demotion

Like those before him, Tabata can gain from demotion
PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates sent outfielder Jose Tabata to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 3, they were demoting an established player who had already appeared in 265 games at the Major League level.

The move was not unprecedented. As D-backs outfielder Chris Young learned in 2009, a player who isn't cutting it runs the risk of being sent down, no matter his experience or accomplishments.

Young debuted with Arizona in August 2006. He was a regular player the next two seasons, hitting .237 with 32 home runs the following year and .248 with 22 long balls the season after.

But through 103 games in 2009, Young was batting just .194 with seven home runs. The D-backs demoted him to Triple-A Reno on Aug. 10.

"I just tried to put things in perspective, and just tried to make the best out of it," said Young, who benefited from talking with Mike Cameron, a veteran who dealt with a similar situation. "I mean, I don't think anybody's happy to get sent down, but I got a chance to get some good, quality work in, and you know, not be angry at the world, just try to better myself and understand that I was still young and I still had a long career ahead of me."

Young performed so well in Reno that Arizona recalled him after only 13 games. During that stretch, he hit .370 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

Young finished the 2009 season by playing 31 games with the big league club, slugging eight home runs -- including three in a Sept. 6 game at Coors Field -- and batting .263 in that span.

"I had a lot of success when I went down there," Young said. "It helps to get your confidence back. I was able to come back up a couple weeks later, and the confidence stayed. I actually finished really strong."

This season, Young is hitting .216 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs. He said he's glad the experience happened to him as a 25-year-old, rather than a player who's further along in his career.

"I think it's tougher for guys who are older, if it happens to them," Young said. "But for a younger guy, you're like, 'If I can clean my stuff up a little bit and fine tune my game, I can get back up to the big leagues and still play 10 more years up there.' If you look at it like that, I think you'll be just all right."

Tabata is 23 years old. As of Monday, he had spent 29 games this season in Indianapolis, where he's batting .321 with five doubles and 13 RBIs. He's also gone 4-for-6 in steal attempts and scored 18 runs.

"I heard that the last week has been some of the best baseball he's ever played," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Monday.

Indeed, Tabata batted .432 and posted a .500 on-base percentage in his last 10 games. It seems that after some initial sulking -- as Pirates general manager Neal Huntington put it -- Tabata's attitude has come around, which was a concern when he was in Pittsburgh earlier this year.

At the time of Tabata's demotion, Hurdle said, "He's not a lazy player. I think there's just some confusion going on right now. You see balls drop in front of him. He wants to catch them. He doesn't make a good first move and he backs off. It's all about first movement, whether it be in the box, swinging the bat. There's just some indecision. And I think sometimes we've just got too much going on upstairs."

A proper mindset is vital in making the best out of a situation such as Tabata's, Young said. That's helped by the realization that baseball is a business, and that transactions happen. It also doesn't hurt that media scrutiny is less intense at the Minor League level, either. When all is said and done, Young said the experience could definitely help Tabata.

"I remember playing against him," Young said. "He's a great player, so I'm sure he'll be just fine, as long as he keeps his head on straight."

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