Pirates' Hughes, Reds' Phillips settle dispute
CINCINNATI — Pirates reliever Jared Hughes and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips talked by phone Tuesday afternoon and resolved their differences stemming from an on-field spat the night before.
“I've got a ton of respect for Brandon Phillips as a man and a ballplayer,” Hughes said. “We talked and told each other how much we respect each other as men. He's a great guy. He's super nice.”
In the eighth inning Monday, Hughes hit Phillips on the leg with a pitch. Phillips flipped the ball back toward the mound, which caught Hughes off guard and angered several Pirates players.
As Phillips walked to first base, he believed he heard Hughes call him “boy,” which Phillips took as a racial slur. Hughes denied making any such comment.
Phillips tweeted about the incident about an hour after the 14-inning game, which ended around 12:30 a.m. He did not identify Hughes in the tweet.
Later, Phillips texted Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who arranged for the two players to talk.
“I was just the middle man,” McCutchen said. “All I did was give them the phone. They worked it all out.”
The Pirates investigated the matter by questioning several players. Major League Baseball also was aware of Phillips' tweet and gave the two players the chance to work it out themselves.
“I do think that's the best way to get things taken care of,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “They both had a desire to speak with one another, and they have worked it out.”
Hughes and Phillips chatted by phone for a few minutes before arriving at Great American Ball Park for the game Tuesday night between the Pirates and Reds.
“We reached out ... and it was the best thing that ever happened,” Phillips said. “It was great to hear what he had to say and (for) him to hear what I had to say. It made us both feel better about the situation.
“It was just a big misunderstanding,” Phillips said. “When you say certain things in the heat of the moment, you really don't mean it. He forgave me. I forgive him. It's the baseball family. I love him as a brother.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7811.