Pirates, Reds discuss hit-by-pitches, dugout-clearing scrum

Bill Brink about 6 hours ago

CINCINNATI -- In case you missed it, here is Sunday’s benches-clearing issue (wouldn’t call it a brawl), or as Reds manager Bryan Price, put it, “More rugby than cage fighting.”

Quick recap: Joe Blanton hit Marlon Byrd high, up near his head, last night. 

“The line is whenever you go above somebody's shoulder -- that's where it is, that's the line,” Byrd said today.

Today, Pedro Villarreal hit Andrew McCutchen in the upper back.

“I was a bit surprised that they would want to retaliate,” McCutchen said. “You should do that early in the game and get it over with.”

Tony Watson then hit Brandon Phillips. 

“I just pound fastballs in, you guys have seen that for the last four years,” Watson said. “Got away. I don’t need to sit here and explain. It’s just one of those things.”

Benches clear at this point. They get heated, then relax, three different times, but nobody really does anything. Involved: Byrd, Todd Frazier, Skip Schumaker, Sean Rodriguez, Joey Votto. Votto, Rodriguez and Byrd were tossed.

In the ninth, with a man on and a three-run lead, Mark Melancon hit Tucker Barnhart. This one, it would seem was unintentional -- brought the tying run to the plate -- but because the benches were warned, Melancon was ejected.

“Knowing the situation, guy’s already on base, tying run comes up to the plate if you hit him ... I feel like the feel for the game is necessary there,” Melancon said. 

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A.J. Burnett discusses elbow injury

Bill Brink about 12 hours ago

CINCINNATI — For A.J. Burnett, Friday night served as a test. 

Angry that his velocity was down and unable to loosen up his right elbow, he started throwing as hard as he could. 

“It was a matter of, I was pretty much fed up with it, got angry and was just, hey, if it's going to go, it's going to go,” Burnett said. “I was just kind of letting it go. Seeing what was left.”

When Burnett says, “it’s going to go,” he is referring to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. That ligament connects the bones in the upper and lower arms and handles a lot of stress during a pitching motion. When it frays or tears, it can be replaced with a tendon from another part of the body in a procedure known as Tommy John surgery, which Burnett had in 2003.

“I’m not going to be coming out of the game unless I can't pick up a baseball, so I was going to see where I was at,” he said. “I've stayed around 90, 92 all year pretty much. That's where I pitch at, that's where I'm comfortable at. I couldn't even get to that the other day. So I was just, enough's enough and seeing where I was at. I guess it didn't go. It might have went, I don't know. We'll see.”

Burnett expected that either the UCL or flexor tendon in his forearm were the issue. The Pirates doctors will examine him Monday. Either way, the 38-year-old righty who is pitching in his final season will not have surgery.

“It's just a matter of doing enough treatment and doing it where it's tolerable again and building up some pain tolerance so I can stay on the mound in the stretch run,” he said.

“I'd probably get it fixed when I'm retired but no point in doing it right now. I'm here to pitch and I'm going to do whatever I can to get back on that mound in two weeks. I'm not going to come back and take the mound if I can't throw. If I can't throw 90, or if I'm throwing how I was throwing the other night early, I can't do that to these guys and this team. I plan on getting back to where I was so I can help us out down the stretch.”

***Clint Hurdle said he planned to return Aramis Ramirez, who gets a day off today, to the cleanup spot for the Cubs series, but also said he has considered moving Jung Ho Kang there. Kang bats cleanup today.

“I'm not a big fan of continuing to pile things on Jung Ho's plate. ... There's going to be a time where you overload his plate if you keep adding things to it,” Hurdle said.

“Today with Rammy out of there, it makes more sense. We'll see if it's something that plays out. Obviously we need to have somebody in that spot that can not just provide protection but also some production.”

Kang hit .379 in July with a .443 OBP. He hit fifth in his final season in Korea, but previously batted third and fourth.

“I'd like to see the guys that hit third and fourth on that team,” Hurdle joked.

***The Pirates will shuffle their rotation so they don’t send three lefties against the Cubs, Hurdle said. Right now, Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ and Jeff Locke would be scheduled to pitch. 


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Pirates pre-game: Charlie Morton vs. Keyvius Sampson

Bill Brink about 12 hours ago

Game: Pirates (60-43) at Reds (47-55)

Time: 1:10 p.m.

Site: Great American Ball Park

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Weather: 82 and sunny


CINCINNATI -- Here are the lineups for today’s game.


1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Jung Ho Kang SS
5. Neil Walker (S) 2B
6. Francisco Cervelli C
7. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
8. Sean Rodriguez 3B
9. Charlie Morton RHP


1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Skip Schumaker (L) LF
3. Todd Frazier 3B
4. Jay Bruce (L) RF
5. Marlon Byrd CF
6. Tucker Barnhart (S) C
7. Eugenio Suarez SS
8. Ivan De Jesus Jr. 1B
9. Keyvius Sampson RHP

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Minor league report 8/1

Post-Gazette Staff about 23 hours ago

INDIANAPOLIS (62-46) beat Charlotte, 6-5, in 13 innings. 1B Josh Bell (.167) hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th in his triple-A debut. RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 1.69) allowed four runs, one earned, and nine hits in 51/3 innings in his triple-A debut. RF Willy Garcia (.248) went 4 for 7 with a home run and two doubles. 

ALTOONA (57-51) lost to Akron, 5-4. RHP Chad Kuhl (2.80) gave up 4 runs and 7 hits in 5 innings. RHP Brett McKinney (0-3, 9.00) was the loser. LF Barrett Barnes (.208) hit a 2-run home run.

BRADENTON (54-50) vs. Tampa, ppd.

WEST VIRGINIA POWER (62-42) beat Lakewood, 4-0. RHP Alex McRae (5-7, 4.47) was the winner, giving up 3 hits in 5 innings. CF Elvis Escobar (.289) went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. LF Jerrick Suiter (.302) went 3 for 4 with an RBI.

WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (22-19) beat Connecticut, 7-6. RHP Bret Helton (5.65) gave up 6 runs – 4 earned – and 5 hits in 1 1/3 innings. LHP Daniel Zamora (1-0, 1.50) was the winner. 1B Albert Baur (.277) went 4 for 4 with an RBI. RF Ryan Nagle (.286) had 2 RBIs.

GCL PIRATES (20-11) beat GCL Yankees2, 6-3. LHP Nestor Oronel (4.86) allowed 1 hit in 2 scoreless innings. LHP Jose Batista (3-0, 2.86) was the winner. DH Jhoan Herrera (.337) went 2 for 4 with an RBI.

BRISTOL (16-20) lost to Danville, 11-4. RHP Neil Kozikowski (0-3, 5.53) was the loser, giving up 2 runs and 6 hits in 5 innings. DH Jonathan Schwind (.111) had an RBI double.

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J.A. Happ arrives, LaFromboise optioned

Bill Brink 1 day ago

CINCINNATI -- J.A. Happ joined the Pirates today and was added to the active roster. The Pirates optioned lefty Bobby LaFromboise, who joined the team for about 18 hours after A.J. Burnett went on the DL, back to Class AAA Indianapolis.

“You see them building and building over the years,” Happ said of the Pirates. “You see where they're at, playing really good baseball, a lot of excitement around the club. What more can you ask for than to go to a club that's in it and playing good baseball?”

Happ will make his Pirates debut Tuesday against the Cubs. He has a 4.64 ERA in 1082/3 innings for the Mariners this season. His batting average on balls in play is .313, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.07 and his xFIP is 4.03, meaning that ERA might be slightly higher than he deserves, but not much.

He had a 2.30 ERA in four starts in April, but since then has a 5.42 ERA and .803 OPS.

“I'm trying to be more consistent,” Happ said. “I had a few tough outings. For me, getting a fresh start will be a good thing. I know what I'm capable of and I know I feel healthy, so I'm excited to get back out there.”

Clint Hurdle on Happ: “He's shown the ability to pitch, to get deeper in games. He's got a bunch of games he's gone six, seven innings. He's pitched in the American League, usually tougher lineups to navigate through. I believe he's got the pitches to handle both hitters, both sides of the plate. Can sink it, can spin it, change speeds. Looking for a new opportunity. We'll wait and see what he's able to do when he gets out there, but I believe this is an opportunity for him to be the best J.A. Happ he's been.”

***John Holdzkom went on the Class AAA disabled list again because of a right shoulder strain. Indianapolis first baseman Hunter Morris was demoted to Class AA Altoona. 

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