Pirates notebook: Beanballs escalate tension against Reds
CINCINNATI — Pirates second baseman Neil Walker's heartbeat accelerated in the ninth inning Monday. Walker had four-10ths of a second to identify an Aroldis Chapman fastball that traveled toward his head at 100 mph and dive out of its path.
Walker picked himself up, took a moment, and stepped back in the box. He struck out swinging on the next pitch, which found the strike zone.
Walker left wondering about the intent of the pitch. The Pirates responded Tuesday when Charlie Morton hit Reds leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo in his calf with his first pitch. Morton also plunked former Pirate Xavier Paul in the fifth.
Brushback pitches and hit batsmen have become a frequent part of games between the teams. Walker was one of 10 batters hit by a pitch in the series May 31-June 2 at PNC Park. Entering Tuesday's game, there have been 15 hit batsmen — nine Reds, six Pirates — in the clubs' past eight meetings.
“You try to give players the benefit of the doubt, but given the history between us and Cincinnati, it makes you wonder,” Walker said. “Balls should not be anywhere near anybody's head. I was hit by (Mat) Latos last time at our place. I was fine with it, because he hit me right in the butt. … It's tough to get me fired up about things, but when you see a 100 mph fastball come near your face you have to wonder a little bit.”
Baseball America released an updated list of the Pirates' top 10 prospects. First-round pick Austin Meadows ranked third, and fellow first-rounder Reese McGuire ranked sixth. Jameson Taillon (No. 1), Gregory Polanco (No. 2), Josh Bell (No. 4), Tyler Glasnow (No. 5), Alen Hanson (No. 7), Nick Kingham (No. 8), Luis Heredia (No. 9) and Tony Sanchez (No. 10) rounded out the updated top 10.
Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch a full bullpen session Thursday. He will throw breaking balls for the first time since leaving a start June 5 with forearm discomfort.
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
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