ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer swears he absolutely, positively is not trying to get hit by pitches.
Not once, not twice, not any of the majors-most nine times it happened in the Rays' first 28 games nor any of the 33 since the start of last season.
"I can tell you 100 percent honestly I never go up there thinking about getting hit," he said. "It's just something that happens. I can't explain it. It happens. I guess you could say it's part of my game. But it's never something I ever consciously think about."
There are several reasons Guyer gets hit so much, starting with the most basic — he doesn't get out of the way.
Rather than diving or ducking to avoid the plunking, Guyer tends to stand there and take it, which he attributes to lacking such an avoidance instinct. Making that worse, he doesn't wear protective arm pads, saying he finds it "annoying" as he swings.
Another reason is that he stands close to the plate, even "crowds it" per manager Kevin Cash, though he doesn't infringe on the strike zone.
Also, the scouting report is for pitchers to work him in so he can't get his arms extended, as he is actually an aggressive hitter who likes to swing early in the count. "They have a tendency to pitch him in, pound him inside, and lot of guys miss in there," Cash said.
Cash said he doesn't like seeing Guyer get hit so much — his nine are the most in history for 17 games and put him on pace for a record 54 — but knows it is part of his game. Don Baylor holds the American League record of 35 set in 1986, Ron Hunt the modern MLB mark of 50 set in 1971, Hughie Jennings the all-time record of 51 in 1896.
"I don't think he's going up there doing it on purpose, but I think he knows the way pitchers attack him, he has a choice on some pitches to get out of the way or not," he said. "You'll see him stand right there and wear some stuff, and that's not a fun thing to do. But I think he understands anyway we can get on base, we'll take it."