DETROIT -- Gorkys Hernandez got the call at 2:30 in the morning. The young outfielder's next call figured to come a little later -- sometime in the seventh inning.A 24-year-old Venezuelan two months into his eighth Minor League season, Hernandez was awakened in the wee hours of Friday by the cell phone ringing on the pillow next to him. Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor: "Are you ready?" Hernandez: "For what?" Treanor: "You're going to the big leagues." The Pirates, who had been carrying eight relief pitchers that limited their bench to four position reserves, were expected to tweak those numbers for this weekend's Interleague Series against the Tigers. But no one could foresee Hernandez being the reinforcement, including the man himself, until righty Evan Meek was optioned back to the Indians. "I was surprised, and really, really excited," Hernandez said during the first few minutes of his life in a Major League clubhouse. At Indianapolis, where he'd also spent all of 2011, Hernandez was batting .266, with an on-base percentage of .343. But his legs and his glove have always been his trademarks. "He's worked his way to the best spot offensively since he's been in Triple-A," said Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle. "He's worked hard at being more consistent in his approach. And he's as good defensively as we have in the Minor League system. "One of his dreams has come to fruition. It's always cool when you welcome a player to the big leagues for the first time." As are most Pittsburgh outfield prospects, Hernandez was developed as a center fielder. But he has seen the majority of action this season in left. Preparing him for a utility role with the Pirates, he significantly made his first appearance in right a few hours before his callup. "At first, when you're used to playing one position [center], it's really hard switching," Hernandez said. "Center is more comfortable, you see everything. But right now, I'm comfortable in left field, too."
McCutchen owns Nationals' pitchers
DETROIT -- Pet phrase in Pirates land for offensive efficiency: Taking ownership of at-bats. Andrew McCutchen has owned the entire Washington Nationals. Judging by comments following Thursday night's game, the Nats want to foreclose on McCutchen.After McCutchen added two home runs to his ledger against the Nationals, their manager, Davey Johnson, opined that he looked too comfortable at the plate. On cue, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said Nationals pitchers facing McCutchen in the future will have to "bust him inside." "It's funny," McCutchen said. "They did that in Pittsburgh. One of their bullpen guys [Craig Stammen] threw up and in and I hit one out. And we saw what happens when they busted me in [Thursday] night -- I hit a 450-foot bomb, a little foul." Four other bombs McCutchen has hit in five games this season against the Nationals stayed fair, part of his 10-for-17 (.588) card that improved his career average against that team to .442, with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in 23 games. "It's not like they're not throwing me inside already," McCutchen said. "I'm either hitting the pitches, or they're balls and I'm taking them. Unless they mean bust me in with a purpose, off the plate. Other than that, I just need to continue. They have to try to adjust to me. I have the upper hand right now, so I just need to stay where I'm at." Stay tuned ... a long time. The teams are done with each other for this season. The 2013 schedule will come out sometime in the autumn.
Tabata benched after not running hard to first
DETROIT -- Jose Tabata was benched by manager Clint Hurdle for Friday night's Interleague opener, but not for misplaying two significant fly balls while playing left field in Thursday night's game in Washington."He got turned around on one, and clanked another," Hurdle said of Adam LaRoche's sixth-inning RBI triple and of Danny Espinosa's seventh-inning leadoff double, respectively. "He's human. It happens." But not running hard out of the box -- that can't happen on a Hurdle team. Tabata was guilty of that in the ninth, when with men on first and second he topped a ball in front of the plate that he "ran" into a catcher-to-third-to-first double play. "He didn't get out of the box. We saw it happen. We've seen it happen a couple of times," said Hurdle. "They understand when that happens something else also happens: You're gonna sit over there with me and watch. "We had a talk. Jose said he 'lost the moment.' Fine, then get down the line. That didn't happen, and that's not part of our identity. That's not what we're creating here. When Jose plays with energy and focus as he has the last three weeks, everybody feeds off him. We revisited that in our talk today, and he's gonna be ready to help." Nate McLouth replaced Tabata in left field in the starting lineup, with Garrett Jones in the other corner of the outfield. Even if a late-game defensive switch is made, it might not involve Tabata. Gorkys Hernandez, a defensively-superior outfielder certain to get a quick first test, was promoted from Indianapolis on Friday afternoon.
After more positive bullpen work -- he threw 40 pitches Friday afternoon -- Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) has been tentatively scheduled to make a two-inning rehab start on Monday with Double-A Altoona.
"That's in the works. We just have to figure out how to get him there," said manager Clint Hurdle.
The Bucs' 18-21 record matches their 2011 record after 39 games. ... The Bucs are wrapping up a three-stop road trip (following series in Miami and Washington) entirely on Eastern Time for the first time since 2003; then, it was Atlanta, Toronto, Tampa Bay.
The Last Word: "Yeah, my wife says that when my dog sees me pitch on TV, he gets scared." -- Jared Hughes, when told his game-face was creeping out Nationals broadcasters during the recent series in Washington.
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.