Pirates Notebook: Pitching inside starts different conversation

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CINCINNATI -- "Retaliation" is not the phrase manager Clint Hurdle used when discussing the way the Cincinnati Reds pitched the Pirates Monday night. He chose a less incendiary term.

"It's not so much being proactive, but there's definitely a point in the game where I think you want to be professionally reactive," Hurdle said.

Reds starter Mike Leake hit Andrew McCutchen in the back to start the fourth inning Monday night.

In the ninth, closer Aroldis Chapman threw a fastball at Neil Walker's head that Walker barely avoided.

McCutchen didn't believe Leake hit him intentionally, which made sense considering the circumstances: scoreless game, 0-2 count, and Garrett Jones, Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez due up with one of the fastest men in the game on base.

"I would doubt he'd be really trying to hit me," McCutchen said.

"I feel with them, especially with me, they want to get the ball inside. When they get it in there, they want to really get it in there, they don't want to miss."

Chapman's situation was different.

"You try to give players the benefit of the doubt, you try to be as professional as you can be, but given the history between us and Cincinnati it makes you wonder a bit," Walker said.

Chapman has a track record. He hit McCutchen on the shoulder with a 101 mph fastball last season. Earlier this year, he twice threw high at the Cleveland Indians' Nick Swisher.

"If you can't pitch in without going up at somebody's head, you shouldn't pitch in," Hurdle said.

"Obviously, you'd like to see the game kind of take care of it within the game somehow some way."

Hurdle and Walker noted that when Chapman misses with his fastball, he generally misses high and outside against right-handed batters.

"I've faced him several times, and that's the first time that I've seen a fastball anywhere above my belt," Walker said. "He's typically down and in to righties, and up and away to righties, with his fastball."

In the previous series between the two teams at the beginning of the month, 10 batters, six Reds and four Pirates, were hit by pitches.

Shin-Soo Choo was hit three times and Brandon Phillips twice. Phillips missed four games after taking a pitch off the forearm from Tony Watson.

"Whether [Monday]night was part of any of that I don't know," Walker said. "It's tough to get me in particular fired up about things, but, when you see 100 mph fastball come pretty close to your face, you've got to wonder a bit."

Walker has been hit nine times this season and said he thought only one of them -- Mat Latos hitting him in that previous series -- was intentional.

"The one that was intentional was handled professionally by their part, and that was from this team," Walker said.

"He hit me in the butt, we move along, that's fine."

McCutchen noted the speed of the pitch as an indication of Chapman's effort. His brush-back pitch to Walker was 100 mph.

"If he's throwing it 99 to 100, that means he's rearing back and really trying to let it eat," McCutchen said.

"When he's 94, 95, he's right over the middle of the plate. I believe that's the difference.

"That's why he sometimes throws up and in, not just us but over his career."

Buried treasure

Wandy Rodriguez will throw a bullpen session Thursday and is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday for Class AAA Indianapolis.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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