Clement optioned; Tabata set for callup?


WASHINGTON — After tonight’s 5-2 loss against the Washington Strasburgs, the Pirates made two roster moves and have two more — including the highly anticipated call-up of righty Brad Lincoln — to come on Wednesday.

First baseman Jeff Clement was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Clement hit .189 with five homers and nine RBI in 45 games. “Jeff needs to go play,” manager John Russell said. “He needs to get quality, everyday at-bats.”

Lefty reliever Jack Taschner was designated for assignment. Taschner made the club as a non-roster invitee to spring training and went 1-0 with a 6.05 ERA in 17 outings. Taschner allowed 22 hits, walked eight and struck out 17 in 19 1/3 innings.

Lincoln is on his way here, and will make his major league debut Wednesday.

The other callup was not yet identified by management. It will be a position player. Remember, the Pirates’ bench already is short-handed by Ryan Doumit’s concussion and Bobby Crosby’s stomach virus. Neither player figures to be game-ready until this weekend.

So … Jose Tabata?

It could be. When I asked if Garrett Jones now becomes the everyday first baseman, Russell hedged, saying Jones and Crosby will play there. That would create an outfield opening.

Ryan Church could become an everyday player, but that’s not likely. That means the Pirates — who’ve scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their past 13 games — could go for an offensive pick-me-up by bringing up Tabata.

»»» With the Pirates up 2-1, the Nationals threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, but were turned away by left fielder Lastings Milledge.

With one out, Willingham went from first to third when Pudge Rodriguez rolled a single into right field. Roger Bernadina flew out to left, but Milledge’s one-hop throw to the plate was on line and in time to get Willingham.

“Just trying to keep us in the game,” Milledge said with a shrug. “We knew that with his stuff, (Stephen Strasburg) wasn’t going to give us a lot to do damage with.”

It was a fine throw by Milledge — and created a surprised buzz among Washington reporters who say Milledge underachieved during his season and a half with the Nats.

»»» He’s some reaction from Nats center fielder Nyjer Morgan — remember him? — about Strasburg’s 14-strikeout debut: “I could have put on my turf (shoes) tonight. It was electric. It’s nice saying we have something electric over here.”

Morgan did not have to track down a single fly ball. The Pirates hit four balls out of the infield in 24 at-bats against Strasburg. The Pirates made just one fly out in the game, Andrew McCutchen’s ball to right field in the eighth against reliever Tyler Clippard.

»»» The team store at Nationals Park, of course, is selling Stephen Strasburg T-shirts and such. But due to licensing rules, only items made by Majestic were for sale until the first pitch, which marked his official ascension from minor- to major-leaguer. After that, items from official MLB manufacturers were rushed out onto the shelves.