The Pirates meet the Cincinnati Reds for the first time this season on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Pittsburgh, and it will be interesting if things get a little chippy.
There were some contentious moments between the two National League Central rivals from each end of the Ohio River during the final two months of last season.
The Pirates felt Reds pitchers intentionally threw at their hitters, as seven Pittsburgh batters were plunked by Cincinnati batters in 2012. The Pirates were particularly upset with Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, whom they believed hit star center fielder Andrew McCutchen on purpose in an early-August game.
In a September game, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, who is black, accused Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, who is white, of using a racial slur. Hughes vehemently denied Phillips' claim, and the Pirates were livid about the assertion.
Right-hander A.J. Burnett will start Friday night for the Pirates. However, he stopped short of saying he might settle any scores.
"Obviously something is going on there," Burnett said. "That's not our priority. Our priority is to win baseball games. So we'll take care of business when we have to."
Mike Leake will start for the Reds in the series opener.