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Pirates hope retaliation energizes clubhouse

Musgrove hit batter after Harrison was plunked Monday night
MLB.com @adamdberry

PHOENIX -- Josh Harrison was hit by 23 pitches last season, but the Pirates rarely retaliated. Ivan Nova did earlier this season, when Harrison's left hand was broken by a fastball from Marlins starter Jose Urena. Joe Musgrove did it again on Monday night at Chase Field, plunking the D-backs' Chris Owings after Harrison was hit in the upper back.

"That's how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates, especially when a guy gets hit high up and in," Musgrove said afterward. "He got hit 25 or so times last year, got hit in the hand earlier this year with the same injury as last year. That's something we don't want to allow to happen anymore."

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PHOENIX -- Josh Harrison was hit by 23 pitches last season, but the Pirates rarely retaliated. Ivan Nova did earlier this season, when Harrison's left hand was broken by a fastball from Marlins starter Jose Urena. Joe Musgrove did it again on Monday night at Chase Field, plunking the D-backs' Chris Owings after Harrison was hit in the upper back.

"That's how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates, especially when a guy gets hit high up and in," Musgrove said afterward. "He got hit 25 or so times last year, got hit in the hand earlier this year with the same injury as last year. That's something we don't want to allow to happen anymore."

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The fastball that Musgrove threw at Owings' backside won't prevent Harrison from getting hit by more pitches. Harrison's stride takes him toward the plate when he hits, and opponents are still going to work him up and in. It gave the D-backs a free baserunner as they rallied to tie and eventually win Monday's game, 9-5. So, what impact might it have going forward?

Video: PIT@ARI: Musgrove hits Owings in the 7th inning

"The importance of teammates taking a stand for one another, I think that is part of the game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everybody can construct their own narrative afterward. But I know [Harrison] has been hit a ton, been hit a lot. This club is working very hard to really maintain the cohesiveness through a tough period of play and not to back down or back away. Just plunking our guys, whether it's accidental or not, is just not OK."

Harrison agreed, saying Monday night it "felt good" to see Musgrove stand up for him and praised his teammate. The second baseman returned to Pittsburgh's lineup on Tuesday after an X-ray revealed no issues with his left shoulder blade. But even Harrison acknowledged that "protection" only goes so far.

"You get hit by 96 [mph] a couple times, I don't think anything can make you feel more protected, other than a pitch not hitting you," Harrison said.

Hurdle said he gives his players the opportunity to "make first decisions" regarding how they handle situations like Monday night. He also likes to evaluate how his team handles adversity. Musgrove's pitch may have sparked Arizona's winning rally, but the Pirates hope it ignites their clubhouse as well.

"It plays in there," Hurdle said. "These guys are together every day. When you win, it's fun. When you don't win, you're together every day and you've got to figure out how to win together again, and you've got to figure out how to support one another when you're not winning.

"Some teams settle. Some teams energize. We energized. The result might not be the one you want. It's not the one anybody wanted."

Cervelli ready to play
Catcher Francisco Cervelli (bruised jaw) completed another on-field workout Tuesday afternoon at Chase Field and declared himself ready to play after sitting out the last two days. Cervelli took early batting practice, threw to bases and caught Chad Kuhl's between-starts bullpen session.

"I think I'm ready," Cervelli said.

Due to his history of concussions, Cervelli said after his workout that he was awaiting clearance from a team doctor. Elias Diaz made his third straight start behind the plate on Tuesday night, while Cervelli did not play.

Draft signings
The Pirates signed three more picks from last week's MLB Draft: right-hander Mike LoPresti (18th round), left-hander Cam Alldred (24th round) and outfielder Cam Mangieri (25th round). All three players, selected out of the college ranks, were assigned to short-season Class A West Virginia to begin their professional careers.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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