Bryce Harper hit a home run off Atlanta Braves' right-hander Julio Teheran in the third inning of last night's game. When the Washington Nationals' 20-year-old slugger came to the plate again in the fifth, the Braves' 22-year-old starter hit Harper in the thigh/knee with a first-pitch fastball. Harper barked at the pitcher as he walked slowly toward first base. Braves' catcher Brian McCann got in Harper's face and had to be restrained by home plate ump Joe West. Benches and bullpens emptied out onto the field. The two sides met on the first base side of the diamond. Nothing escalated. Cooler heads prevailed. The game went on with the Nats losing 2-1 and the Nationals dropped 14.5 games behind the NL East's first place Braves.
"Did you think about retaliating after that?" one of the Sports Junkies asked Davey Johnson this morning during the manager's weekly appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.
"The way you retaliate," Johnson explained, reiterating what he said after last night's loss, "Ryan Zimmerman almost did it. He almost hit one out. That's the way you fire back. You get up and you get a big hit and you bury them. It's important to understand too, nothing you do right then is going to be any good other than strike back offensively and beat them. Beat the heck out of them. But it's planted in our minds. That that was done on purpose and there are consequences."
It was also a close game with the Nationals desperately in need of a win. Gio Gonzalez was on the mound and warnings were issued, so the Nats would have lost their starter. "It's not the time," Johnson said, "You're under a warning. Once the warning is out, you're dead in the water."
"Do you thing you'll be warned before the game today?" a Junkie inquired.
"No, I don't think so," Johnson said. So retaliation tonight? "First of all, you don't talk about this stuff," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper joked, "Don't you guys get it?"
"Things will even out. They always do," Johnson added.
"When you're going bad like that and somebody hits you like that, every impulse in your mind, you want to run out there and escalate it, you know, but you can't do that. It's useless. That's not the way you solve those problems."
Did Teheran hit Harper on purpose? "Probably, no doubt in my mind," Johnson said.
"Like I said, things even out over the course of the season. Or next season."
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo was asked about the incident in his own appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. when he spoke to hosts Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier.
"My thoughts are always the same," the 52-year-old General Manager and newly-promoted President of Baseball Operations said. "The players have been policing this game since the beginning of time. And the players are going to continue to police it. They usually take care of these things on their own. They don't need people in the front office popping off. They don't need managers popping off. The players take care of things and it usually works out fine."
Rizzo sounded calm and collected this morning, as opposed to his comments after the Phillies' Cole Hamels hit Harper early last season. As Davey Johnson joked, however, he thought that the former player, scout, scouting director and assistant GM would have been the one to keep an eye on if Rizzo was on his team.
"[Rizzo] would have liked to have been right in the middle of that bench clearing thing last night," Johnson said. "He would be the one that I'd have to hold back. I will say that. That's the Italian in him. But I would definitely have had to keep an eye on him."
More from Federal Baseball:
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- Benches Clear In D.C.: HBP On Bryce Harper Stirs Up Nationals And Braves' Rivalry
- Game 113 WPA: Better to be lucky than good. Nats 1, RFB 2
- Benches Clear After HBP On Bryce Harper; Braves Win 12th Straight, 2-1 Over Nationals
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