The Pittsburgh Pirates want to make it clear once and for all — Pirates reliever Jared Hughes did not make a racial comment toward Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.
The issue flared anew Wednesday after Phillips and Hughes seemingly had made peace during a cell-phone conversation that took place after Phillips said an unnamed Pirates player had said something racist toward him on Monday night.
Phillips, after his conversation with Hughes, repeated his claim in an interview with NBC SportsTalk, promoting Hughes to issue a statement Wednesday.
"In response to Brandon Phillips’ TV interview yesterday prior to the game, I feel compelled to once again make it perfectly clear that I did not make any comment with a racial undertone or connotation during our exchange Monday night, period," Hughes said.
"While I cannot repeat everything that I said because I did swear, it is obvious when reviewing the tape that I in no way, shape or form made any remark that was in any way connected to race. It is not how I was raised and not who I am as a person."
The exchange between Hughes and Phillips took place Monday night after Hughes hit Phillips with a pitch. Phillips flipped the ball back to the mound, and Hughes responded angrily, according to a source, "Throw the ball in the f—— dugout, m—–f——."
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told FOXSports.com that team officials spoke to members of both clubs and the umpiring crew, and that none said they heard Hughes make a racial comment.
"We can’t in any way dispute what Brandon said he heard," Huntington said. "We can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that from the information we gathered and the video we saw, Jared Hughes did not say what he was accused of saying.
"There was no racial slur by Jared Hughes. He is not that type of person. He did not say what he was accused of saying."
Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, one of the game’s leading African-American stars, said that no opposing player has made a racial comment to him during his 16 years in the majors.
"You might hear it from fans — I hear that a lot," Hunter told FOXSports.com. "But the players, we all respect each other.
"I don’t think race plays a part in baseball. That’s one thing about baseball. You take all that out and just play the game."