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A lot of people think — or want to think — the Dbacks caused Andrew McCutchen’s injury

Aug 6, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 9.52.38 AM AP

We’ve made note of the events over the weekend a few times: the Diamondbacks’ Randall Delgado, almost certainly acting on orders from his manager or on the throw-at-guys culture of Dbacks brass, tossed a 95 m.p.h. fastball into Andrew McCutchen‘s back on Saturday for no good reason at all. The next day McCutchen left the game with what was initially called an oblique strain. Now it has been determined to be a rib fracture. More specifically, an an avulsion fracture, which happens when bone and cartilage are strained to a pretty extreme degree, pulled away from ligaments and tendons.

Most of us aren’t doctors and none of us have examined McCutchen, so none of us know how it happened. But there was certainly a lot of anger being aimed at the Diamondbacks anew yesterday, with many convinced that the bush league HBP on Saturday caused the injury. This, from the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh, is a pretty decent encapsulation of the sentiment I’ve seen:

I’m no doctor — that should be very obvious — but I spoke with a highly qualified one Monday night.

Dr. Bryson Lesniak is a UPMC orthopedic surgeon who used to work for the Miami Marlins. He ruled out the possibility that Randall Delgado’s pitch — the one that hit McCutchen squarely in the spine — caused the avulsion fracture in McCutchen’s 11th rib. But nobody thought that, anyway.

Here’s the important point: Lesniak did not rule out the idea that McCutchen’s mechanics were compromised the next day because of the after-shock of getting drilled.

That possibility just makes sense. You hurt one thing, you might favor something else, even if subconsciously.

I have thought the same thing. It just seems intuitive. Of course, a lot of things seem intuitive that are totally false. We simply can’t know and, to be honest, no medical professional is likely to come out and say “yes, this was caused by Delgado’s pitch.” It likely will never be known definitively and will likely remain firmly in the fan-lore and fan-sentiment arenas, not the medical one.

But can we agree on something? Can we agree that it’s totally possible to think that the Dbacks and Delgado acted awfully in throwing at McCutchen on Saturday regardless of the effect that HBP actually had? Indeed, if it did no damage whatsoever, can we agree it was a stupid, reckless and cowardly act that has no place in baseball and that, if Joe Torre weren’t asleep on the switch on this one that Delgado and/or Kirk Gibson would have been suspended or fined by now?

I hope we can agree on that.


  1. [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Really disappointed we didn’t get a post hoc, ergo propter hoc comment. You’re slipping Craig…

    • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      To say that the ball didn’t break the rib is one thing. To say that the events are unrelated is a stretch.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Actually, the stretch is to say the events are related.

        Is it possible they are related? Sure.

        Is it likely? No, it isn’t.

        These events are about as related as Kim Ng not being hired because she’s a woman. It is true that she is a woman and did not get the job, but there are plenty of other reasons this could have happened….just like there are plenty of other reasons for McCutchen’s injury.

      • indaburg - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        I read the comments thread yesterday regarding McCutchen’s broken rib and was chuckling at all the Dr. Wikipedias. The one that really made me laugh was one that said the HBP to his flank had as much to do with McCutchen’s injury as a concussion would, apparently forgetting that the body part hit is in the general vicinity of the body part injured. While it may not have directly caused the injury, it didn’t occur in a vacuum. It may have aggravated a pre-existing injury, or the ensuing pain of the HBP could have caused him to alter his swing or mechanics. I have no problem assigning some blame to the Diamondbacks.

    • dtcha - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      RETALIATION PITCH by the PIRATES 23rd July 2014 (2 weeks ago)
      97mph Fastball pitched by Justin Wilson (PIT) into the elbow of Justin Turner (LAD)
      Wilson ejected immediately. Clint Hurdle argues for his pitcher and also gets ejected.

      “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”

  2. stlbirds21 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Larussa needs to clean house down in AZ. Towers, Gibson all need to be gone. However since that wont happen the Dbacks will sign nyjer Morgan today so he can be ready to throw down with the Pirates.

    • jeffchadwick - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      LaRussa was an “eye-for-an-eye” manager throughout his career. There’s a reason why the Dbacks are consistently involved in this type of nonsense, and the blame isn’t entirely on Kirk Gibson.

      • heycraigc - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        LaRussa hasn’t been in AZ all season. Towers and Gibson have been talking about this approach-an eye for an eye-long before the season began.

  3. andreweac - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    If Andrew was grittier and had more tWtW his rib would not have fractured.

  4. stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Towers and Gibson are brainless loseers who compensate for their lack of baseball management skills by falling back on bogus tough guy talk and trying to injure their opponents. Apparently this is fine with MLB.

    Fortunately, we will eventually be rescued from their little schtick by their incompetence. Eventually D-Back owners will surely get tired of losing. I’m curious to see what their job prospects will be in baseball after the housecleaning.

  5. bfunk1978 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    We can agree it’s possible that it isn’t the HBP’s fault, but damn, it seems as good of an excuse as any to drop record-sized suspensions on a manager and pitcher that were clearly acting intentionally after the first attempt missed McCutchen.

  6. cincinata - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Who knows what the cause was now, but we do know it was a cheap shop and Delgado should get some kind of suspension. This has been going on in MLB for a long time but it is different today. In the old days, there were some unwritten rules about throwing at the best player on the team. For instance, no one threw intentionally at Musial, Mays or Aaron (and others). If you did that, then expect the whole team to charge the mound and get even. I am not saying he is any of the aforementioned greats, but he is the driving force of the Pirates. Too bad, I loved to see him play in the field and at bat. I was at the game last month when he tied the game in the top of the 9th with a two out H-R, and then beat the Reds with a H-R in the 11th to win it. Of course we were all shocked, but what a player.

    • johnrr - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      What do you think the other Gibson ( Bob) would have done if one his teammates got hit? Spahn, Juan Marchal , Drysdale, Sutton and list would go on and on.

      • bfunk1978 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        As if that makes it right…dumb rationalization right there.

    • azvikefan - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      And Goldschmit is the driving force of the D-backs. Some of you may recall the D-backs getting blistered in the media for NOT retaliating against the Dodgers last year. Now they do, which I’m sure LaRussa had something to do with, and they get blistered in the media.

  7. Old Gator - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Torre isn’t merely asleep at the switch. The switch proactively tranquilizes him. He has proven himself within a very short time to be a much better executive lapdog than he ever was as a manager or ballplayer. Some of us just find out calling later on in life.

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Joe Torre was a bit better as a manager and player than you say:
      9× All-Star (1963–1967, 1970–1973)
      4× World Series champion (1996, 1998–2000)
      NL MVP (1971)
      Gold Glove Award (1965)
      NL batting champion (1971)
      NL RBI champion (1971)
      2× AL Manager of the Year (1996, 1998)
      New York Yankees #6 retired

      G’day mate. No worries. Am I makin’ you miss the Land Down Under? Whadya mean, “nope”!

      • dowhatifeellike - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        The point was that he is an exceptional lapdog for MLB, not that he was a poor player.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      I wish I didn’t, but I completely agree here. Sadly, this type of behavior is simply part of MLB culture and there appears to be zero desire to change things. Maybe we have to wait for a player to be killed or suffer traumatic, life long injury before someone decides that hurtling a projectile weapon toward another human with specific intent to injure is maybe a bad idea and completely unnecessary.

      Quick test. If I were to walk out on to the street and use a pitching machine to throw 95mph fastballs at people, how long before I would get arrested? Oh, but because we are all tough guys and this is a sport, it’s different?

      Torre and MLB continue, year after year to refuse to step up and do what’s not only in the best interest of the game, but to simply do the right thing here and knock this silliness off.

      • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        Think Dickie Thon for the Astros. Traumatic severe injury will not be enough. I suspect killing one won’t be either. Cultures change slowly.

      • blacksables - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Show me where you can set up a pitching machine in the street and hit lines drives at 120 mph at someone’s head 55′ away.

  8. The Bronx Bombers - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Plunk a player, expect some retaliation…thats just how the business works

    • unclemosesgreen - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Have a wild reliever hit a player by mistake in a situation where it made absolutely no sense to hit the batter, have that player apologize like crazy, then hit someone on purpose the next night in “retaliation” – that’s not how the game works and furthermore it is never how it has worked. It’s what happens when a bunch of macho idiots do a terrible job putting together a low-talent team and get frustrated when said low-talent team predictably starts losing a lot of baseball games.

      Towers and Gibson should be fired based upon their performances. It’s a bottom line business. But they deserve something closer to jail time and/or pariah status for this particular senseless batch of nonsensical violence.

  9. dowhatifeellike - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Whether it caused the injury or not is irrelevant. Hitting McCutchen was blatantly intentional. Gibson doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he orders beanings. Gibson needs to be fired but he should probably study past managers to learn the more subtle points of gamesmanship.

    • unclemosesgreen - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Gibson has never ordered a beaning that I am aware of. Beaning = hitting someone in the head with a pitched baseball.

      Plunking is the baseball colloquialism of choice for hitting any part of a batter’s body except the head.

      • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        It’s hard to say about Gibson’s orders. His pitchers are so bad he could very well be ordering beanings.

        I’ll just be glad when he is gone.

  10. phillysports1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    They’re Dirty Bags.

  11. spudchukar - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    The Pittsburgh Pirates lead all teams in MLB in 2013 in hit batters with 60. In 2014 they are blowing away the competition with 61. The next closest is 48. If your pitchers continue to plunk so many hitters, then retaliation is forthcoming. And your best player is often the target.

    • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      I’m not too interested in the count. How many other managers are bragging about the fact that they do it?

      Nail his butt for that.

      • spudchukar - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        You would be interested in the count if it was you getting plunked.

      • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        I’ll grant you that, Spud.

      • gbrim - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Gibson never bragged about the hit. Make any argument you wish, but don’t invent ‘facts’ to back it up.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        So you don’t care if managers have their pitchers hit guys all the time, you just care whether or not the brag about it?

        The Pirates should be the last club to complain about intentional HBPs, because they do it at least as often as any other team in MLB. Every recent HBP-war in the NL central has involved them.

      • stex52 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        High fives and thumbs up all over the Arizona dugout. For McCutchen and for Braun. Coincidence? Besides, Towers announced it as a policy.

  12. timmmah10 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I’d say throw at the Dbacks star player in retaliation, but with Goldy down, they don’t really have one….

    • azvikefan - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      They already did throw at the Dbacks star player. And put him out for the season. Retaliation was needed. That’s what started this Calcaterra induced whine fest.

  13. timmmah10 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    On a serious note, until they start really suspending pitchers for more than a few games (which for starters doesn’t change anything) this culture will continue. Starters should get an automatic 9 game suspension (since suspending 5 games is just a start getting pushed back one day, 9 games would be an actual missed start) and relievers should get an automatic 3 game suspension they are thrown out of a game for throwing at a batter. I know accidents happen, but in situations like Delgado hitting Cutch, it was blatant.

  14. bisonaudit - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    I used to be concerned about the effect that warning both benches after a HBP had on both pitchers ability to pitch inside, but offense is down so much and everything else is working in favor of the defense and pitching at the moment so, In the present environment MLB should definitely be taking a harder line on this stuff in general and as it specifically applies to Arizona they’re way, way out of line. Not only are they doing this stuff, they’re bragging about it. It’s a disgrace. On the rare occasions where hitting someone is “necessary” you don’t revel in it. You do your duty not because you want to but because you have to. And you keep your mouth shut.

  15. mlbfan8898 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Do you have anything better to call them than gritty or dbags? It’s getting old and doesn’t resinate much since it’s used by the same people over and over and over.

  16. mikhelb - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    We could agree with you Craig, but then you’d pull a fast one by writing a column contradicting those who agreed with you.

  17. jinx21fan - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    I have no horse in this race, Blue Jays fan here. All I know is the Pirates have hit 61 batters this year and the Dbacks have hit 32. I know it goes against the “enlightened” narrative of the media, but I’m thinking the Pirates should have been plunked sooner and more often. Maybe it would have helped their pitchers with their obvious control problems.

    • pittisit43 - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      The Pirates have been hit 60 times….so I’m pretty sure they are getting plunked plenty.

      Martin, Marte and Walker are all in the top 5 in HBP this season.

  18. senorsharkfin - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    @Craig – hopefully we can also agree that you really don’t like the D-Backs and all of your articles that involve them are completely one-sided and tend to lack factual information. I can admit that I’m a passionate D-Backs Fan, but I always try to look at the facts before running my mouth. What happened with the D-Backs and Pirates was unfortunate and Goldie is now out for the season due to a HBP that was “high & tight” in the 9th of a 5 run game. Yes, you’ll say why was he even in the game anyway and it was an accident (which I won’t argue)… but the facts are it’s the 3rd broken hand the D-Backs had in the last year due to an “accident”, if you want to take these high & tight risks the unfortunate baseball truth is that you put your own batters as risk by these actions should accidents happen (this is an MLB problem, not a D-backs problem)… the unfair thing is to say that only the D-Backs retaliate and that their scum and everyone who’s plays / works / roots for them is garbage and they should all be fired!!! Was the Cutch HBP retaliation? Of course it was, but was the Cutch injury caused by this HBP?? We’ll never know and to play the spin “Oh we don’t know if the injury was caused by the HBP, but we can all still agree the D-Backs are still at fault” Really? That is pure garbage. Lets start talking about facts…. the Pirates lead the Earth in HBP with 61 and the next closest team has 49, with the D-Backs needing to get their act together with 32. So let me guess none of those earth leading 61 HBP’s weren’t intentional?? Exactly… Outside of the Dodgers in 2013, the Braun HBP and this most recent Cutch incident, can you think of any other recent cases where the D-Backs were involved retaliation fiasco??? Why not try writing articles that actually involve facts instead of always trying to make assumptions and calculated guesses and spin because it makes you look cool… for instance maybe try, “We can all feel sorry for the Pirates & Cutch, but they’re just as much to blame for this retaliation mentality than anyone else… why? —> – That’s right, less than 2 weeks ago… the innocent Pirates were just as much of a retaliation hungry team when their MVP Cutch was accidentally hit as well” p.s. really looking forward to your next Puig article…

    • gbrim - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      Don’t forget Aaron Hill was lost for half of 2013 because of a HBP broken hand thrown by a Pirates pitcher. The history goes back awhile between these two teams. Also, the DBacks starter on the day of the McCutcheon HBP told the press he would never try to hit another player. He was emphatic about that.

      There is a lot more nuance to this incident than this website’s coverage would have you believe. I don’t condone retaliation. I don’t condone aggressive pitching up and in and leading the majors in HBP for years running, as the Pirates have, either.

      • bisonaudit - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        Two years ago they were 23 in the league in hit bats men. Last year they had a 4 more than the Red, 5 on the Blue Jay and 6 on the Cardinals. They’re got a lot more than anyone else this season and the rate is higher than last year but they have not been leading the league for years running.

    • bisonaudit - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      The Pirates have also been hit more than anyone in the league at 60, so if they’ve got anything coming to them, they’re getting it. They don’t need anymore help from a bunch of jerks in Arizona who like to run their mouths.

  19. catfoodtitans - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    The doctors who worked with McCutchen have already said that the injury is unrelated to the HBP. I can’t find the article to support that, but it was announced on MLB network that the plunking and injury were not related. If you’ve seen the swing McCutchen took, you’d see that he was really trying to kill the ball. I do think that if he wasn’t hit, he wouldn’t have taken that swing. If this was any other player Delgado had hit, there would be no article. If he had hit Josh Harrison or Neil Walker (two players who really need to step up now) there wouldn’t be a controversy.

  20. randomjoeblow - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    A lot of people think — or want to think — the Dbacks caused Andrew McCutchen’s injury

    Nice headline. It’s almost like writers with an agenda — say, Craig Calcaterra — haven’t written numerous articles about how the Dbacks most likely caused Andrew McCutchen’s injury. I can’t imagine where “a lot of people” would have gotten that idea from..

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