Tata came to camp expected to open the season as an insurance starter in case the Tigers eventually encounter injuries in their rotation. However, he battled control issues all spring. Including the exhibition opener against Florida Southern College, which does not count in the official Spring Training statistics, Tata allowed seven runs over 2 2/3 innings. He walked seven batters in that span while yielding four hits.
He obviously knew he was doing something wrong. He hadn't felt right the whole spring, but he didn't know how to fix it.
"It just felt like I couldn't let the ball go," he said. "When I did, I didn't know where it was going."
The final outing that flared Tata's temper came Friday against the Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. He retired the first two batters of his inning before issuing back-to-back walks and being pulled.
That's when his emotion got the better of him and he did something he admits was dumb.
"It just built up," he said. "It's just one of those things where you're not even thinking."
Not until later, when the swelling grew, did he realize the damage he had done.
"I didn't even feel it," he said. "Half an hour later, I looked down, and it was just like a goose egg."
And yes, he has heard plenty of advice from teammates and others that he should've thrown the punch with his other hand.
"We've all seen Bull Durham," he said, allowing a slight smile.
He's struggling to find a bright side to this. If there is any, it could be the time he now has to clear his head and figure out where he goes from here.
Now 26 years old and entering his sixth professional season, he's at an interesting point in his career. He's at the doorstep of the big leagues, but he has spent the better part of the last two seasons at Triple-A Toledo since opening the 2006 season in the Tigers bullpen as an injury replacement. After missing the first two months of last season with a strained right shoulder, the right-hander went 4-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 14 starts for the Mud Hens, limiting opponents to 67 hits over 82 2/3 innings.
His brief callup to the Tigers at the end of July earned him his first Major League win, scattering two runs over seven innings on July 30 at Oakland. He made two more starts before being sent back to Toledo, but he was not called up when rosters expanded in September.