McCutchen on Delgado HBP: 'It's the past'

Center fielder took a pitch to the back during series at Chase Field last year

McCutchen on Delgado HBP: 'It's the past'

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Conversing about the offshoot of inside pitches was a doubly relevant topic Friday for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

There was the memory of Andrew McCutchen's prior appearance here, which ended with him needing help putting on his shoes in Chase Field's visitors' clubhouse. A pitch by Arizona reliever Randall Delgado into his spine may have contributed to an avulsion rib fracture that had curbed his mobility -- and a week later would introduce him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Was that Delgado pitch -- suspected to have been in retaliation for former Pirates righty Ernesto Frieri having cracked Paul Goldschmidt's left hand -- a topic of Hurdle's regular pre-series meeting with his club?

"No … we're gonna talk about this team," said Hurdle, meaning the 2015 D-backs, "and getting ready for this series."

"It's the past. Old news," McCutchen said before going out to try to get closer to 1,000 hits -- he began the night with 996.

Then, there is the recent rash of incidents involving the Kansas City Royals, who have exchanged knockdown pitches -- among other things -- with the A's and the White Sox.

"We all want to compete, and it's kinda like a turf war," Hurdle said. "This fighting part, it has escalated into an area I'm sure we're gonna hear something about soon."

As a big league manager with his finger on the game's pulse, Hurdle attributed the trend to three things.

"Batters are getting hit at an astronomical rate," Hurdle said, conceding to not know the actual numbers.

Fact: The rate is up only slightly over the 2014 season, when the incidence of hit batters was .34 per game. Through this season's first 470 Major League games, that number has crept up to .37.

"More teams are trying to pitch inside. And it's hard, not something you're going to be good at initially," went on Hurdle, for whose Pirates the approach is not new. "It's a major part of our pitching philosophy."

Finally, the fact the major skirmishes have occurred in the American League, where the designated hitter protects pitchers from having to bat, is not lost on Hurdle as playing a part.

"It very well could," the skipper said. "There is something to be said about pitchers having to take ownership of it, more so than just being a principal off the mound. [It's different if] you have to put your spikes in the box and stand up there."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.