Looks like Diamondbacks starting pitchers learned a lesson. In talking to Arizona radio station Sports 620, Daniel Hudson touched upon the fact that Justin Upton was hit by 19 pitches last season—second most in baseball.
“If it’s a starting pitcher [who hit Upton], remember, he’s got to hit,” Hudson told the station, according to ArizonaSports.com, the station’s Web site. “They either have to hit their spots, or expect something in return.”
Okay, that makes sense. What’s interesting is how Hudson and the rest of the staff came upon this realization. The right-hander said that the subject was raised “halfway through the year.”
There are some obvious follow-up questions: Who brought the subject up with him, and how? Was it an order (or at least a suggestion) from manager Kirk Gibson, or somebody else on the staff? Was it Upton himself, or another of the hitters? Were the pitchers called out in a group setting, or did it happen through individual conversations on the side?
This is all interesting stuff. The way a team communicates information like this can be as vital—if not more so—than the information itself. It should be noted that, for a staff chided halfway through the season for the dearth of protection it offered its own hitters, Diamondbacks pitchers drilled either nine or 10 batters in every month of the season, save for September, when they hit only six; they actually declined in that category in the second half. Even so, their total of 53 HBPs—28 by starters, 25 by relievers—ranked fourth in the National League.
There’s also the fact that Upton stands notoriously close to the plate, which certainly had something to do with the frequency of his drillings. (The next closest Arizona player was Miguel Montero, who was hit eight times; nobody else was touched more than four times.) Upton intoned at the team’s FanFest earlier this month that he’ll continue to stand atop the dish, so one can reasonably expect the frequency of his drillings to continue.
Was Hudson just blustering to try to make opposing pitchers a little more wary of pitching inside to Arizona’s best hitter? When the D-Backs make their way to San Francisco later this season, I’ll see if I can’t track down some answers.
3 thoughts on “Daniel Hudson Throws Season’s First Gauntlet”
If Upton stands so close to the plate I don’t believe his pitching staff has a legitimate argument. Standing inches from the black of the plate is an open invitation to be pitched inside. How many times did Upton score or steal a bag after being hit? If Upton was not the one to bring the situation to the table it is my opinion that he knows what he is getting into and possibly approaches a hbp as just another base and opportunity to score and make something happen.
Hudson’s comment, it appears, was part warning to the NL, part public proclamation to the Arizona hitters that their pitching staff has their backs. The D-Backs know that Upton will get drilled more than the average player, simply because of his positioning. If Arizona pitchers can posture their way into intimidating any percentage of opposing pitchers to staying outside on him, that’s a net win. As for Upton, he knows precisely what he’s getting into; Hudson just officially approved the strategy.
lincecum hit him in the head, literally doesnt matter where he stands, you are a cy young winner. clean it up meat.