PITTSBURGH -- Fans were holding their breaths as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approached, anxious for the Pirates to fill their only perceived hole, offense from the right-field position.
General manager Neal Huntington apparently shared that anxiety, judging by the widely-circulated comment that he was "willing to do something stupid, but not insane."
So guess what was happening while Huntington was "striking out" on the trade front? The Pirates kept winning. Their 6-2 record last week featured four wins over the Cardinals and was impacted by the two players that a deal could have displaced, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata. Between them, they hit .306, scoring six runs and driving in three.
They must have been what both Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle were referring to as something "in our back pocket " as the Trade Deadline clock was ticking.
"We were never, ever in a trouble situation," Hurdle said. "We talked the entire week about getting the other guys sparking. It might just be that Presley and Tabata find their way out there."
"It's great to see those guys have some big hits and make some key plays for us," Huntington said. "It's what we're going to need. It's part of the belief we had in this club, why we didn't want to do something desperate. They've shown signs of being the answer as we move forward, but they haven't done it on a consistent enough basis -- so let's see how consistent they can be."
Since the emphasis had been on getting a right-handed power bat, Tabata could be a bigger part of that answer. He provided a bright flash of that potential Saturday night, with a home run to right field and a triple into the faraway North Side Notch. Tabata also got Hurdle's attention with his forceful sprint home and slide on Josh Harrison's squeeze bunt.
"He threw up a game we were all hoping to see," Hurdle said. "That slide at home was the kind of play that gets you up out of your seat a little bit."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.