ST. LOUIS -- The last time Clint Hurdle wanted to give Starling Marte a game off, the Pirates manager ran into a problem. Rather, Jose Tabata ran into a wall, and Hurdle sent Marte out on the Great American Ball Park field to replace him, playing the rest of that April 16 game.
"So I don't think he got anything out of it," Hurdle said of Marte's interrupted respite. "And that was disappointing for me, because I did have another option [to replace Tabata in that game]. I could've run another guy out there. I should've stayed with the plan."
As it was, while finishing off that game, Marte had two at-bats and struck out once -- the problem that had prescribed the rest in the first place.
After that, the Bucs' erratic leadoff batter went 9-for-38 on the just-concluded eight-game homestand, drawing two walks and fanning 11 times.
Time for another time-out, reasoned Hurdle, who had at least two other good reasons for sticking Tabata into the leadoff spot and into left field on Friday night: Tabata went 3-for-5 last season against Friday's starter (Shelby Miller) and the Cardinals are due to give the ball on Saturday to a left-hander (Tyler Lyons).
Southpaws tend to be good for the confidence of Marte. He raked them at a .402 clip last season.
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. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.