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Choo, Baker downplay rash of Reds' hit batters

Choo, Baker downplay rash of Reds' hit batters

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."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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