Pregame: Hurdle and Baker discuss big series

Joe Sargent

Notes from this afternoon's press scrums with Clint Hurdle and Dusty Baker:

Big game, big series

As the Pirates and Reds prepared for the first game of a huge series on Pittsburgh's North Shore this afternoon, the mood inside the two teams' clubhouses was business as usual. The Pirates' clubhouse was quiet, with the usual group of two or three players honing their skills at the XBox. The Reds' clubhouse was more upbeat, with Brandon Phillips holding court with a teammates and then going over his "All Swag Team" with Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.

For their part, the two teams managers said just about what you would expect given the circumstances. Clint Hurdle went with the familiar refrain of: "This is the most important game we'll play all season, until tomorrow." Dusty Baker said that the importance of series is "self-explanatory."

The managers' extended quotes:

Hurdle:

This is our next game. This is the most important game we'll play all season. What greater statement is there than that? This is the most important game we'll play all season, then we'll play another one tomorrow. There's nine games left, we get that. By why would you want to change something that's worked well for the group and for individuals this far?

Baker:

I shouldn't have to instill the importance of this (to the players). If I have to instill the importance of this to anyone, they need to get another job. Kind of self-explanatory. We've played a whole season to get to this.

Starling Marte not in the lineup

Starling Marte's wife gave birth to the couple's first child last night, which seems to be the reason for his exclusion from the lineup today. As of 4:00, he had not arrived at the park. "He's expected to come in," Hurdle said, "but my boy might be a little tired."

Hurdle on Padres' dugout: "There wasn't a lot of help over there"

Asked today whether he thought the Padres should have done more to break Tony Sanchez's fall into their dugout yesterday, Hurdle said:

Truth be told, there probably were a few of those guys not paying attention (laughter). Other truth to be told: you see a big guy like that coming towards the dugout, there are probably a few of them that got out of the way. There just didn't happen to be somebody to step in between. I would like to think that I would take it upon myself to help out if could. You never know what you're going to do when you're put in one of those situations. Obviously looking back and reviewing the tape, there wasn't a lot of help over there.  Glad he wasn't hurt.

Baker not surprised by the Pirates' success

Baker said that he is not at all surprised to be battling with the Pirates for the division crown this late in the season. He identified the addition of Russell Martin and the maturation of Starling Marte (who he described as a "force") as important keys to the team's success. He also pointed to Pirates high draft position the last few years:

They're kind of like Tampa Bay. When you're picking first or second for a number of years, you're supposed to come up with something. Sooner or later you're going to come up with good players ... so no, I'm not surprised.

Baker hasn't thought about the history of beanballs between the two teams

Dusty Baker claims he hasn't thought at about how the history of beanballs between the two teams might factor into the series. He argued that both teams pitch inside, and that most often hit batsmen are the fault of the hitters. "Nobody can throw that ball exactly where they want to put it," Baker said. "There's such a thing as a mistake. I blame the hitters moreso than the pitchers. They think that anything close is intentional. That's crazy."

Odds and Ends

  • Hurdle revealed that many in the Colorado organization texted him after their game last night. However, Todd Helton, who successfully pulled off a hidden ball trick, did not.
  • Justin Wilson is a "possibility" to pitch either tonight or tomorrow.
  • The Cincinnati reporters said that today's pregame press meeting with Baker was the most well-attended of the season. It was tight quarters in the visiting manager's office, to be sure, with one media member forced to stand in the manager's shower area.
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