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Pirates notebook: Reds' Phillips reiterates racial accusation

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The Reds' Brandon Phillips rounds the bases after a home run in the first inning against the Pirates on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Cincinnati. (Getty Images)
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 6:12 p.m.

The Reds' Brandon Phillips doubled down on his charge that Pirates reliever Jared Hughes made a racial slur during the game Monday.

In an interview with NBC's “SportsTalk,” Phillips told Erik Kuselias that Hughes “said what he said” after Phillips was hit by a pitch. Phillips said it was the first time he had heard a player make a racist comment on the field during a game.

When Kuselias pressed Phillips to confirm Hughes made an offensive remark, Phillips paused and said, “He did. That's what we talked about. If you want to know what he said, you should ask him.” Phillips said he forgave Hughes during their phone conversation Tuesday.

Hughes said Wednesday he was surprised and frustrated by Phillips' comments to NBC.

“I did not say those things he is saying I said,” Hughes said. “I did not make any comment with a racial undertone or connotation during our exchange on Monday night — period. While I cannot repeat everything that I said because I did swear, it is obvious when reviewing the tape that I in no way, shape or form made any remark that was in any way connected to race. It is not how I was raised and not who I am as a person.”

• Third baseman Pedro Alvarez was scratched from the lineup Wednesday with what the team described as “right wrist discomfort.” He will be re-evaluated Friday.

• Second baseman Neil Walker (lower back tightness) was given Wednesday and Thursday off from baseball activities. “We'll see where we are Friday” when the Pirates open a four-game set against the Cubs, manager Clint Hurdle said. Walker has been out since Aug. 27, and at this point there is nothing to do but wait for his soreness to clear up. “We have sought out the proper medical attention,” Hurdle said. “It's taking time. There are some people who think that, with what he's dealing with, it's moving faster than some so-called medical experts have anticipated.”

• Right-hander Jeff Karstens (sore hip pointer) will be available out of the bullpen during the Cubs series. If Karstens goes back into the rotation, it probably won't happen until the Sept. 21-23 series against the Astros in Houston.

• It is not certain that left-hander Jeff Locke will remain in the rotation the rest of the season. “We are open-minded to change,” Hurdle said. “That doesn't mean Locke won't (stay in the rotation).” Hurdle added management would like to give righty Kyle McPherson at least one start before the season is over.

— Rob Biertempfel

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