DENVER -- Joe Kerrigan, the Pirates' pitching coach, adamantly denied he ordered closer Matt Capps to hit St. Louis star Albert Pujols Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"Absolutely not," Kerrigan said yesterday. "In fact, I've never even heard of a pitching coach giving a signal to hit someone."
Tony La Russa, the Cardinals' manager, said after the game Sunday, "I think it was an intentional hit. And there's no doubt in my mind it came from the bench. I really believe it didn't come from the manager."
La Russa did not elaborate, but it was clear he was pointing to Kerrigan.
"That's his opinion," Pirates manager John Russell said yesterday. "That's about all I can say."
Kerrigan offered two explanations for why he would not order such a hit.
"No. 1, we have too much respect to throw at Pujols," he said. "We have respect for him because of the way he respects the game, how hard he works. That would be the last guy we'd throw at. And No. 2, I've been around the game a long time, and I don't know of anyone who has that authority other than the manager. Not a bench coach. Not a pitching coach. Nobody. I've never gone there. I've never even asked a manager to do that."
He paused, then backed Capps' contention that he had no intent.
"He started out with a slider. If Matt wanted to hit him, he'd hit him with the first pitch. Why wait?"
Kerrigan took that same message on Monday to Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of rules and the man responsible for doling out discipline, as the two spoke by phone about the matter at Kerrigan's request. As of late yesterday, neither the Pirates' management nor Capps had heard if he will be fined or suspended, as often is the case when a pitcher is ejected for hitting a batter.
Capps expressed hope that no action would be taken, given that Pujols publicly absolved him after the game by saying, "I don't think he did it on purpose."
"All I know is I didn't mean to hit Albert," Capps said yesterday. "And he seemed to feel the same way, judging by what he said."
Colorado manager Jim Tracy, formerly of the Pirates, was asked if he still recognized anyone on the visiting side.
"A few," he replied with a small laugh.
He seemed more focused on watching his son, Mark Tracy, a former first baseman and catcher at Duquesne University, take batting practice with the Rockies, the team that drafted him this summer.
"He's a big, strong kid," the elder Tracy said. "He's got a chance."
• General manager Neal Huntington, on making an August waiver trade: "I don't envision us really doing much. This is a group we'd like to have as the foundation going forward."
• Tom Gorzelanny has been scheduled by the Cubs to start Saturday against the Pirates in Chicago.
• Pitching prospect Rudy Owens was named Class A Carolina League player of the week after 9 1/3 scoreless innings over his first two starts since being promoted to Lynchburg. He had been 10-1 with a 1.70 for low Class A West Virginia.