Update: As I was writing this, Pirates closer Mark Melancon hit Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart with a pitch. There was one out and a runner on second base in the bottom of the ninth. Melancon was immediately ejected, and manager Clint Hurdle got tossed for disputing that with Reyburn.
Pirates batters entered play Sunday having been hit by 59 pitches, a major league-leading total. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had eight of them, the third-highest total on the team. It’s been such a common occurrence that McCutchen said, “Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher,” as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported in July.
During Saturday’s game between the Pirates and Reds, reliever Joe Blanton hit outfielder Marlon Byrd with a pitch. It nearly hit him in the head. Even if it wasn’t intentional, it’s understandable that Byrd might not have been happy.
On Sunday, the Pirates led 3-0 in the top of the eighth. With two outs, reliever Pedro Villarreal hit McCutchen with a pitch, a first-pitch 91 MPH fastball. McCutchen, who was kneeling on the ground, had a word with Villarreal. He may have felt that the Reds were exacting revenge for Saturday’s event with Byrd. But McCutchen eventually took his place at first base and that was that, at least it seemed.
The Pirates responded in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, reliever Tony Watson hit Brandon Phillips on the back with a first-pitch, 94 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn didn’t immediately eject Watson, but he did get in front of Phillips as he walked towards the mound. The players began to spill out from the dugouts onto the field, and congregated for a pushing-and-shoving-and-yelling match. Ultimately, Reds first baseman Joey Votto and outfielder Byrd was ejected, as was Pirates utlilityman Sean Rodriguez. Watson was allowed to stay in the game, and got the final two outs of the frame to keep the Reds scoreless.
There will certainly be fines and potentially suspensions levied as a result of Sunday’s incident. And it likely won’t be the last of the bad blood between the NL Central rivals.
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton had surgery on June 28 to repair a broken hamate bone. The injury timetable was 4-6 weeks, with the further end suggesting a mid-August return for the slugger. But as MLB.com’s Steve Wilaj reports, Stanton said is recovery is “definitely slower” than expected.
Stanton said he’s been hitting balls off of a tee, but still feels pain. He’s swinging “as strong as it allows”.
It sounds like the Marlins, 42-62 entering play Sunday, should expect to get Stanton back towards the end of August, assuming he suffers no more setbacks. Though he no longer qualifies on the leaderboard, Stanton is still tied with Todd Frazier for second in the major leagues with 27 home runs, two behind league leader Bryce Harper. He’s also knocked in 67 runs while batting .265/.346/.606.
We’ve understandably heard a lot about Wilmer Flores since the failed Carlos Gomez trade on Wednesday, but right-hander Zack Wheeler was the other player who was supposed to be sent to the Brewers. His name was surfacing in rumors again yesterday, most notably as part of a proposed deal for Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, but Mike Vorkunov of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that Wheeler reached out to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to express his desire to stay with the team.
While the Mets managed to keep Wheeler while also picking up Tigers slugger Yoenis Cespedes, Alderson said that the phone call didn’t sway the team’s trade talks. However, he appreciated Wheeler reaching out to him.
“(It) actually had quite an impact,” Alderson said. “Really expressed his desire to remain a Mets, his excitement for being part of the organization and being part of what is happening here. Acknowledged it was a business but at the same time wanted to express his feelings to me. I can’t say it was dispositive of what took place because I acknowledged back to him yes it’s a business.
“Again, if you go back to Wednesday and even this conversation, we’re talking about human beings. We all develop an attachment to each other and whatever capacity we serve so it’s hard. Anyway, I appreciated the fact Zack reached out.”
Of course, Alderson acquired Wheeler for Carlos Beltran in a deadline deal with the Giants back in 2011.
Wheeler, 25, underwent Tommy John surgery and flexor pronator surgery in March. He resumed throwing this week, but isn’t expected to pitch in the majors again until around midseason next year.