Guyer getting hit by pitches at historic pace

Rays OF tallies 9 HBP through first 17 games

Guyer getting hit by pitches at historic pace

ANAHEIM -- The Rays' Brandon Guyer gets hit by pitches more than any player in the Major Leagues. He doesn't wear any pads or guards for protection, though.

"I actually tried it after I got hit in the elbow," Guyer said. "I tried it, but the strap is just annoying to me. When I'm up there, I feel the strap and it's just annoying. I felt like it hindered my hitting, so I just decided not to use it."

Guyer got hit twice in Friday night's 5-2 Rays win, which moved him to nine hit-by-pitches for the season, making him the first player since at least 1913 to coax that many HBP within his first 17 games played in a season. He is on pace for 54 hit-by-pitches in 348 plate appearances, which would break the Major League record held by Hughie Jennings (51) of the 1896 Baltimore Orioles.

Fans would almost swear that the Rays outfielder has a target on his body based on how often he gets hit by the baseball. Some opposing pitchers believe he hangs over the plate. Count David Price among them, as the Boston left-hander thought Guyer did just that during the Rays' last series against the Red Sox in Boston.

Guyer maintains he's never attempted to get hit by a pitch.

"I can tell you 100 percent I never go up there thinking about getting hit," Guyer said. "I can't explain it. It happens. I guess you could say it's part of my game, but it's never something I consciously think about.

"... If you look, I'm a very aggressive hitter. I swing at the first good pitch I see. If I was doing it on purpose, I'd be up there not swinging, taking pitches. But I'm up there hacking."

Guyer said word has gotten out about his penchant for getting hit. After the Dodgers' Scott Kazmir hit Guyer on Tuesday night, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez talked to Guyer about his penchant for getting hit.

"Gonzalez said, 'You know I looked, because they said at our meeting that you get hit the most of anybody in the league, I looked and you weren't out over the plate,'" Guyer said. "I said, 'I'm not. When I stride I sometimes close myself off, that front foot goes over. But I don't do that on purpose. That's how I stride.' He said, 'Yeah, that's what it looked like. You weren't out over the plate.'"

Rays manager Kevin Cash noted that Guyer does "crowd the plate." And when asked about Guyer's decision to not wear any padding, Cash smiled: "I wish he would."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.