Diamondbacks All-Star Justin Upton was hit by 19 pitches last season, the second-most in all of baseball.
"I'm not going to move," Upton said at Fan Fest in early February. "So, I'm going to stand in the same spot again. We'll see."
Upton is the team's best player, so it's little surprise he was the victim of more than a few "messages" sent by other teams. And, as is baseball custom, no one would have been surprised if Arizona's pitchers showed they had their teammate's back by drilling opposing hitters square in theirs.
That didn't happen much last year, though, as the Diamondbacks tended to retaliate with their bats more than their arms, often times driving Upton in and scoring some runs.
Upton said he expects things to be a little different this season, and one of the team's best pitchers agrees.
"It really kind of got brought to our attention like halfway through the year," Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo about how many times Upton was hit. "At the same point in time we're trying to get in a playoff push. Yeah, our players need to get protected, but at the same time we need to concentrate on winning the game."
The Diamondbacks did that often last season, but the fact that their star got drilled more than his fair share of times was not lost on Hudson and the pitching staff. As a pitcher, Hudson understands that no one misses that far inside unless they mean to, so it's not as if the bean balls were unintentional. It's with that in mid that the D-backs righty has a message for anyone planning on plunking their right fielder.
"If it's a starting pitcher, remember, he's got to hit," Hudson said. "They either have to hit their spots, or they better expect something in return."
That's not to say the Diamondbacks won't still look to make the opponent pay on the scoreboard. Also a guest on Burns and Gambo, D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said it's important to stick up for anyone who gets put on base, whether they are hit or simply pitched around.
"You always want to stick up for your teammates," Goldsdchmidt said. "If you can punish the pitcher by driving one in the gap and Upton's able to score from first - or anyone, really, is able to score - it makes it hurt a little more than just a hit batter and then you get a double play and end the inning."
Interesting choice of words by Goldschmidt, as the team "hurt" opposing teams who hit Upton by lighting up the scoreboard. While the hope is that won't change, it appears that's not the only pain opponents will feel if they throw at Diamondbacks hitters.