PITTSBURGH -- Entering Thursday, the Pirates had hit 11 more batters than anyone in baseball. But one plunking in particular has caused quite a stir in the last week.
Bucs reliever Ernesto Frieri hit the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt in the hand on Friday night, which set off a chain reaction. It was announced Saturday that the first baseman's hand was fractured and his season was over, and later that night, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen was drilled in the back by Randall Delgado in the ninth inning.
Tensions were high in the desert even after the Pirates left town, and D-backs chief baseball operator Tony La Russa said earlier in the week he was upset by how much flak his team was getting for hitting McCutchen. La Russa added: "There's a big difference between getting hit here [in the hands] and getting hit here [in the back]. That's why I think it's unfair."
On Thursday afternoon, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked about La Russa's comments and defended his team's pitching philosophy.
"I have a personal and professional respect for Tony; I see things from a different lens," Hurdle said. "We try to pitch aggressively to both sides of the plate. We have not taken an initiative to pitch dangerously. He's entitled to his opinion."
McCutchen fractured a rib in his left side the following day while taking a swing, which caused further anger from the Pirates fan base, though Hurdle called relating the injury and the hit by pitch a "conspiracy theory."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.