McCutchen agrees there's no bad blood

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One day after getting hit with an 87-mph fastball on his left arm, Andrew McCutchen backed up Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker's belief that there is no bad blood between the two teams.

And Baker doubled down on his assertion that the Pirates hit too many batters to complain when they wear one.

McCutchen was hit by a pitch for the ninth time this season Friday night, four of which have come in games against the Reds.

"I don't know what their game plan is for me, but they keep hitting me," McCutchen said. "Clearly their game plan hasn't changed."

Scouting report

  • Game:

    Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park.

  • TV, Radio:

    Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).

  • Probable starters:

    LHP Jeff Locke (10-6, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (13-11, 3.56).

  • Key Matchup:

    Arroyo vs. Marlon Byrd, who is 8 for 21 against him.

  • Hidden stat:

    The Reds have lost Arroyo's previous four starts.

In 14 games against each other leading into a game Saturday night at PNC Park, the Pirates and Reds combined for 23 hit batters, and McCutchen has been the recipient of more than one-third of the 11 the Reds have thrown.

"I don't think they want to miss when they come in, that's why," McCutchen said. "Because they know what will happen if they do that."

Baker said Friday night that umpires were warned by the league before the start of the series that there is "bad blood" between the Pirates and Reds, likely stemming to a game in 2012 when Aroldis Chapman hit McCutchen with a 101-mph fastball at Great American Ball Park.

"It's just one team trying to beat another, and everybody else is blowing it out of proportion," McCutchen said. "Like Dusty Baker said, it's not like there's a target out on anyone's head to hit or anything like that. It happens that people get hit."

Baker noted Saturday that the Pirates and Reds don't lead the league in combined players hit by pitch in a season series this year. That distinction belongs to the Yankees and Red Sox, with 26. Then, Baker noted, the Pirates and Cardinals have combined for more hit by pitches this year, with 24.

"There's kind of a common denominator here, don't you think?" Baker said. "I ain't that smart or nothing, but it looks like it."

Grilli is closer again

Jason Grilli moved back into the closer's role -- for one night at least.

Before the game Saturday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Grilli, who missed more than a month with a flexor strain and has not pitched in a save situation since returning from the disabled list, would return Saturday as the team's closer. Whether he stays there is still to be determined.

"I'm taking it one game at a time right now," Hurdle said. "Jason's going to throw. Do I feel like he's at the point where he could throw back-to-back days? I think he is. I don't have to worry about tomorrow until it gets here."

Before the game, Grilli hedged when asked if he hoped to return as the closer.

"I want to compete," he said. "I've done what's been asked of me, and I think I've done a pretty good job of that."

Before Saturday, Grilli had a 7.20 ERA in his six outings since returning from the disabled list. But his two most recent outings -- scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres -- were decidedly sharper.

Before his injury, which happened July 22, Grilli was 30 for 31 in save situations with a 2.34 ERA and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.

Melancon, meanwhile, has struggled, blowing two saves in the past week. One of those blown saves, however, involved three unearned runs after shortstop Jordy Mercer made a throwing error Friday night that extended an inning.

Melancon has a 4.15 ERA this month.

"This is a time not to reinvent but to redefine -- to adjust," Hurdle said.


Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.


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