BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 20: General Manager Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals talks to the media before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
28-year-old Philadelphia Phillies' left-hander Cole Hamels was suspended for five games for hitting 19-year-old Washington Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper in the back with a 93 mph fastball on the first pitch the veteran starter threw to the rookie outfielder in Sunday night's series finale between the NL East divisional rivals. Nats' starter Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels the first time the opposing pitcher stepped to the plate later in the game, but denied having done so on purpose when asked by reporters after the game. Hamels, for his part, openly admitted to having hit Harper intentionally when he spoke to the press, telling Philadelphia Inquirer writer Matt Gelb, among others, "'I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it,'" before going on to explain his rationale for doing so:
"It's something I grew up watching. That's what happened. I'm just trying to continue the old baseball. Some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything. That's the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players. It's that old-school prestigious way of baseball.'"
Hamels' suspension was announced Monday evening. Jordan Zimmermann received no punishment for what some saw as a retaliatory HBP. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told Washington Post Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore on Monday, in an article entitled, "Mike Rizzo calls Cole Hamels ‘fake tough,’ calls for suspension after ‘classless, gutless’ act", that he'd, "'... never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball.'" The Nats' general manager didn't stop there...
From The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:
"'Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.'"
""He thinks he’s sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He’s sending the polar opposite message. He says he’s being honest; well, I’m being honest. It was a gutless chicken [bleep] [bleeping] act. That was a fake-tough act. No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school.'"
According to a report today by CSNPhilly's Jim Salisbury, those comments earned the Nationals' GM a fine form Major League Baseball:
"Major League Baseball has slapped Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo with an undisclosed fine for his comments about Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, CSNPhilly.com has learned."
The CSNPhilly.com writer added that, "Rizzo, through a Nationals team spokesman, confirmed that he had been fined, but had no comment." Talking to reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, about his comments this afternoon, the Nats' general manager would only say, "'I've probably said enough.'"