Regardless of a wish by some to blame manager Kirk Gibson for an injury to Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, those in the know say there's no likely connection between the Arizona Diamondbacks plunking McCutchen on the back with a pitch and McCutchen's diagnosis of a fractured rib.
It is a heck of a coincidence, considering the location of the pitch in question thrown by right-hander Randall Delgado on Saturday — but it seemingly is just a coincidence. McCutchen strongly had implied that he felt getting hit was revenge by the D-backs for perceived transgressions earlier in their weekend series with the Pirates. Gibson has a widely known reputation for managing ballplayers who play the game that way — including pitchers who will throw inside, or closer, in order to get a point across.
McCutchen initially was thought to have sustained a strained oblique muscle, but he told the media Tuesday that, instead, it's an avulsion fracture of the 11th rib. Avulsion fractures are where cartilage tears away from bone — not the bone itself being fractured, like what could happen with a plunking. Some possibly good news on that front: An oblique muscle strain might have landed McCutchen on the disabled list for perhaps a month, but he hopes to avoid the injury list altogether with this updated diagnosis.
As for what caused it: If medical people examining McCutchen had concluded that Delgado's HBP was the root of his injury, any calls for Gibson to be disciplined would be more than reasonable. But it's not the case, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says:
Clint Hurdle said he does not believe McCutchen's injury stems from being hit by a pitch on Saturday.— Travis Sawchik (@Sawchik_Trib) August 5, 2014
Is he just being nice? Trying to diffuse a potentially explosive situation (after the fireworks already went off?) Nobody reasonably could blame Hurdle for being upset if there were linkage. More likely, he's going with what the doctor says.
And this from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Just now received follow-up text from trainer saying McCutchen injury probably NOT from HBP. Injury is ligament or tendon pulling from bone.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 5, 2014
So how did the repulsive avulsion happen? Other possibilities include McCutchen diving for a ball on defense in the eighth inning Saturday:
He literally might have hurt himself on this swing Sunday:
Or it's something else. Something else Kirk Gibson did? Just kidding. Probably. For now.
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