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Getting plunked a habit for Kouzmanoff

Getting plunked a habit for Kouzmanoff

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DENVER -- Padres manager Bud Black has a four-part hypothesis as to why some batters are more susceptible than others in getting hit by pitches.

"One, they crowd the plate. Two, they're pitched in a lot. Three, they don't know how to get out of the way of a pitch. Four, they don't care if they get hit. Some guys just hang in there," Black said.

Then there's Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who might actually fit more than one of Black's criteria. There's certainly enough evidence to back it up, too.

On Saturday, Kouzmanoff was hit by a pitch for the 13th time this season, tying the club single-season record set by Gene Tenace in 1977. Kouzmanoff is tied for fifth in the league in that category.

"I think it's a function of how teams pitch him," Black said. "In Kouz's case, he sees the ball, he tracks it and he waits. And I think a lot of times, teams try to crowd him because they know if they make a mistake, he can hurt them. So they err on throwing the ball in instead of over the plate."

Kouzmanoff, who hit the ball with power straightaway and toward right-center during his rookie season, has turned on more pitches inside in 2008. Kouzmanoff has hit three more home runs (21) than he did last season, including 10 at PETCO Park.

"He's learning how to turn on the ball and take advantage of fastballs on the inside," Black said.

Kouzmanoff, who didn't know he had tied the club record until someone told him, said he has no idea why he gets hit so often. A year ago, Kouzmanoff was hit 10 times.

"I guess I don't have enough quick-twitch muscle fibers," Kouzmanoff joked. "Maybe it is because I'm looking for a pitch in the strike zone and I'm so dialed in that it's tough to get out of the way at the last second."

Kouzmanoff started wearing a pad on his lead (left) elbow last season that has kept him from suffering too much pain when being hit in that area, though he swears that he can feel soreness in the elbow where San Francisco's Matt Cain him last season.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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