As outfielder Bryce Harper is preparing to serve his three-game suspension, which was previously four games, Washington Nationals General Manager gave his thoughts on what transpired between Harper and Giants’ pitcher Hunter Strickland on Monday when he appeared on 106.7 The Fan in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies.
“I was always taught, my dad always taught me, you get hit with a pitch, you have two ways to go,” Rizzo explained to the Junkies on Wednesday morning. “You either run to first base or you run to the mound, none of this talking, talking, talking. Just go and get it over with.”
“If Strickland had that big of a problem with him, there’s hallways and runways by the clubhouses that you can have a little conversation in-between games, before games if you want to.”
The reason for Strickland nailing Harper with a 98 mph fastball was pretty obvious. He was still holding a grudge from the 2014 NLDS when Harper hit two home runs off of him. You would think Strickland would be over that since it happened almost three years ago and the Giants ended up winning the World Series that year.
That’s why Rizzo didn’t understand Strickland’s retaliation.
“I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about there was going to be retaliation or anything like that, I just — it was back in ‘14, it was playoff atmosphere, it was baseball, everybody is looking at home runs nowadays and when you give them up that far they deserve to be watched and admired,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo made a valid point. It was the playoffs and things like that are going to happen. It’s kind of crazy how Strickland held that grudge that long.
During his interview with the Junkies, Rizzo also made some comments on how the league should have handled the situation differently.
“You get a reliever who pitches twice a week in low-leverage situations, against the No. 3 hitter in a contender’s lineup, he drills him, they both get suspended, and there’s no balance there,” Rizzo said. “What’s to stop a reliever from coming in and hitting every star player and getting him pissed off [to] where he gets suspended.”
“That’s where the league has to step in and really look at the situation, you look at the enormity of a complex situation and really let cooler heads prevail and take into account all of the things that happened in this situation.”