6/19/2013 6:48 P.M. ET
Choo, Baker downplay rash of Reds' hit batters
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Reds leadoff hitter and center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by a Major League-leading 19 pitches this season. That included one off the right knee on Pirates starter Charlie Morton's very first pitch of the game Tuesday.
"It hurt. I have 19 right now and I was the most hurt last night," Choo said Wednesday, the mark on the side of his knee still visible. "I've never been hit in the first inning with the first pitch [of the game]. I never saw with different teams that happen before. I don't know what's going on."
There was immediate question over the intent of Morton's pitch, since it came one night after Pirates switch-hitter Neil Walker was buzzed high and inside by a 100-mph pitch from Aroldis Chapman. Both Morton and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle denied any intent to plunk Choo after Tuesday's game.
Choo has been hit by six pitches from the Pirates this season. Only 12 players in the league have been hit at least six times (or more) overall.
"We've played more games against the Pirates -- I'll get more hit-by-pitches," Choo said. "You guys count how many are hit against the Pirates and other teams. I'm not counting. I only count the total, not one team."
Pittsburgh's staff entered the night with a Majors-leading 39 hit batters, including 10 against the Reds. One of them hit Brandon Phillips on the left forearm, costing him four games.
Choo believed the controversy about the plunkings is media-driven.
"I watch ESPN and MLB [Network], and they make problems. We don't have any problems," Choo said.
Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't believe the Pirates intentionally hit Choo.
"No. 1, you have to pitch inside to get guys out. And they're doing a pretty good job of getting people out," Baker said. "You don't really like getting hit that much. A lot of times, in this modern time, it's two things: They don't pitch inside and they don't know how to pitch inside. The second thing is batters don't know how to get out of the way if they're not pitched inside. There is a very small margin of error between a hit batsman and a strike. There's only 6 or less inches."
Asked how it would be known that the exchange of hit batters would be over with, Baker did not know the answer.
"It used to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth until it was over," Baker said. "Umpires would give you both a shot. Now, whoever takes a shot first, it's an automatic warning for the second time. I hope nothing is intentional. We pitch inside too. Johnny Cueto pitches inside. There's a correlation between success and pitching inside."
Reds hope Phillips' walk-off hit ends recent funk
CINCINNATI -- It's not hard to trace the origin of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips' recent hitting funk. Phillips hasn't been the same since June 1, when he was plunked on the left forearm by Pirates reliever Tony Watson.
Now Cincinnati hopes they can pinpoint the end of it: Phillips' walk-off single up the middle in Wednesday's 2-1, 13-inning win against the Pirates.
"I haven't been myself lately," Phillips said after the win. "To come through like that, I was due. It felt good just to hit the ball up the middle and come through for the team. It was a team effort. We stayed in the game and we really wanted this win."
The bruised left forearm suffered from a Watson fastball put Phillips out of action for four games. In the 13 games since he returned to the lineup, he is batting .179 (10-for-56) and is 3-for-26 on the homestand. Though he hit the winner in the 13th inning Wednesday, he went 1-for-5 with a walk, a strikeout and three left on base.
There is still a noticeable welt on Phillips' forearm, but he refused to make excuses.
"If I'm on the field, I have to do my job," Phillips said before the game. "I'll be all right. I will be back to normal. Ever since I got hit, I haven't been doing [anything.] It stinks though. I'll find a way to get it going."
In Tuesday's 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh, Phillips was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
"I'm not going to blame it on my arm," Phillips said. "I'm going to blame it on my performance. I'm swinging at bad pitches. I'm getting myself out."
Phillips is batting .270 with 10 home runs, and his 58 RBIs are tied for second-most in the National League. On Wednesday afternoon, he talked briefly with Dusty Baker in the manager's office.
"He's just trying too hard more than anything," Baker said. "He's swinging at bad pitches. Nobody is going to hit swinging at bad pitches. Even though [Jay] Bruce is hot behind him, they're still not giving [Phillips] a lot to hit. He's got to be more selective.
"He'll get better. He's trying to make up for lost time. You can't make up for lost time."
• Injured left fielder Chris Heisey did not play in Tuesday's scheduled rehab game with Triple-A Louisville because of wet conditions in Durham, N.C. Heisey, who is working his way back from a strained right hamstring, played his first game for the Bats on Monday and went 2-for-4 with a strikeout and a run scored.