Bryce Harper took what the Washington Nationals thought was an intentional beaning from Atlanta Braves' right-hander Julio Teheran Tuesday night after homering off the 22-year-old right-hander earlier in the game. Wednesday afternoon, Harper provided some headline-worthy quotes about the HBP when he spoke to NatsInsider.com and CSN Washington.com's Mark Zuckerman about the incident.
Asked if he showed the Braves' pitcher up on the home run, Harper said, "Compared to what [Justin] Upton did the first night? I don't think so."
Harper explained that he understood it was part of the game and he said he respected Braves' catcher Brian McCann and Teheran's decision to do it. As for why he didn't charge the mound since he clearly didn't like getting hit and voiced his displeasure after the pitch, Harper repeated what he said after Tuesday's game.
The Nationals need wins and they have a better chance of winning with the 20-year-old slugger in the lineup. That's not all he said, however.
"I don't think I should charge the mound with a 14.5 game lead," Harper said, referring to the Braves' lead in the NL East before Wedneday's night's game. "Of course, if we were ahead a couple games, I'd probably try to put him six feet under. I wasn't very happy about it. But I understand why he did it and I understand why [McCann] did what he did and I probably would have done the same thing if it was me out there on the mound."
The Nationals didn't respond with a retaliatory HBP in Tuesday's game, which was a closely-contested one-run game at the time Harper was hit. Davey Johnson explained afterwards that he'd asked the home plate umpire Joe West to consider tossing Teheran rather than warning both teams, but West went with the warnings. And once he did, Johnson told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s the Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning, "It's not the time. You're under a warning. Once the warning is out, you're dead in the water."
Johnson did, however, add that these things had a way of sorting themselves out... eventually. "Things even out over the course of the season," he said, "Or next season."
Harper was asked by CSN Washington and NatsInsider.com's Mr. Zuckerman if he understood why his teammates didn't retaliate in that situation. "No, I mean, I think if I'm a pitcher on my team," Harper said, "I think I'm going to drill somebody. It's something that's part of the game yesterday and it's also something that I think could light a fire for us. But like I said, we're 14.5 games back and we don't need anybody getting ejected or doing anything like that."
Nats' starter Jordan Zimmermann, who "unintentionally" hit Cole Hamels last season after the Philadelphia Phillies' starter welcomed Harper to the majors with a fastball in the back, didn't react on Harper's behalf on Wednesday night. No Braves were harmed in the finale of the three-game set in the nation's capital.
After Washington's 6-3 loss to Atlanta, it wasn't Harper's comments in the pregame interview that were a topic in the post game press conference, it was what looked like a heated conversation between Harper, his manager and shortstop Ian Desmond after Harper didn't exactly run out a flyout in the seventh inning.
Cameras captured the exchange that both Harper and Johnson later said was not what it appeared. "I went over to him," Johnson explained, "I was concerned about his leg bothering him because he didn't round the base. And that was all that was about."
Harper too said his manager was just asking about the condition of his bothersome left knee, which cost him over a month on the DL earlier this summer.
"'I just told him that I felt fine,'" Harper told reporters, including MLB.com's Tom Schad, "'and I didn't want him to take me out of the game. I wanted to stay in the game."
His knee was fine, so why didn't he run out the pop and round first? Johnson said Harper explained, "That he just messed up, you know. But it wasn't bad enough to come out of the game."
Run-until-they-tag-you. And run everything out.
More from Federal Baseball:
- Braves 6-3 Over The Nationals: Davey Johnson And Jordan Zimmermann On Nats' Loss
- Game 114 WPA: The triumphant debut of Tanner Roark. Nats 3, RFB 6
- Braves 6-3 Over Nationals; 13-Straight Wins For Atlanta; 6-0 In Nats Park In 2013
- Nationals' Wednesday Night Lineup vs the NL East's First-Place Braves
- Nationals And Braves' Benches Clear After Bryce Harper HBP: "Things Will Even Out. They Always Do." - Davey Johnson