Notes: La Russa criticizes Harang

Notes: La Russa criticizes Harang

ST. LOUIS -- No harm intended.

On Tuesday, Reds starting pitcher Aaron Harang beaned Cardinals catcher Gary Bennett in the back of the helmet in the second inning. It forced Bennett out of the game and he was later diagnosed with a skull contusion.

"I'm upset at myself for that," Harang said Wednesday. "It's the first time I've hit somebody in the head. It's not a fun feeling to have."

"I've played against him in the past. There's no bad blood," Bennett said, who was not seriously injured. "The ball just got away from him."

The incident still prompted a strong reaction from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who didn't believe in no harm, no foul.

"There isn't anything in baseball that I object to more," La Russa said following Tuesday's game. "Whether we hit them or they hit them, I've said it for almost as long as I've been managing: I'd suspend a guy two weeks to start with. A month the next time and then a season, if a Major League pitcher doesn't have better command than that."

Harang, normally mild-mannered and soft-spoken, appeared stunned and a little annoyed Wednesday afternoon when he was relayed LaRussa's comments.

"Whatever. He can say whatever he wants," Harang said. "I'm not that type of person and he should know that. The guys on their team know that. Gary knows that because I called and talked to him. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have called over. That's not my personality to do that.

"He understood it wasn't intentional. I apologized for it. I was worried and wanted to make sure he was OK. There were no hard feelings."

Normally a control pitcher with just 28 hit batsmen in 848 2/3 innings over 141 career games, Harang said the pitch was a two-seam fastball that the right-hander meant to throw inside, but not that high and in. But Harang also said he was having command problems early in the game, which his high pitch count of 114 over seven innings backed up.

"I'm not the type of person that will throw at somebody's head and risk their career," said Harang, who received a no-decision in the Reds' 4-3 defeat. "There's no need for it."

La Russa's feelings hadn't changed when he talked with St. Louis reporters Wednesday.

"It's accidental because he didn't mean to hit him, but he meant to throw the ball up and in and that's a very dangerous thing," La Russa said. "I've probably said it 100 times in the 20 years I've managed, so it ain't new material, but if you're a big-league pitcher, you should be able to get the ball below the shoulder. If you don't, you should have a big consequence because that's a dangerous thing."

Reds manager Jerry Narron hadn't heard about La Russa's views but didn't fire any shots in return when told about them.

"Tony's been around the game a long time," Narron said. "It bothers me when someone on the other team gets hit on the head."

Freel update: Injured Reds outfielder Ryan Freel was scheduled to visit head and spine specialist Dr. John Brannan on Wednesday. Freel has been on the 15-day disabled list with head and neck contusions stemming from his May 28 collision with Norris Hopper.

Freel was also expected to work out under the supervision of team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. The next update of his condition is expected to come on Friday.

Hopper sits: For the first time since May 27, a span of eight games, Hopper was not in the Reds starting lineup. With Josh Hamilton back from the DL, and Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. in the lineup, there was no room for Hopper.

"I'm sure he'll play all three games this weekend," Narron said.

Starting 13 of Cincinnati's last 18 games, Hopper batted .347 (17-for-49) during that stretch. His absence, combined with Freel's, left Narron without a traditional leadoff man on Wednesday. For the fourth time this season, first baseman Scott Hatteberg was written in at the top spot.

"The big thing is to put someone up there that can get on base," Narron said. "Hatteberg can do that."

Second rehab assignment: Lefty reliever Bill Bray has been sent to Class A Sarasota on a rehabilitation assignment for his sore left shoulder. Last month, Bray was rehabbing for a fractured index finger and developed the shoulder problem.

Farm report: Lefty Phil Dumatrait ended a run of three straight rough starts with an eight-inning performance for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. Dumatrait allowed one earned run and four hits for a no-decision in Louisville's 2-1, 10-inning loss to Charlotte.

Submerged: A water main break beneath Great American Ball Park this week flooded the home clubhouse and the adjacent Diamond Club. The Reds had cleaning crews on hand to pump out inches of standing water and dry everything out.

Coming up: Kyle Lohse (2-7, 4.58) will start for the Reds in Thursday's 8:10 p.m. ET series finale vs. the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright is the scheduled starter for St. Louis.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.