Bryce Harper’s four-game suspension for “charging the mound, throwing his helmet and fighting” has been reduced to three games after the Washington Nationals’ 24-year-old slugger appealed Major League Baseball’s initial decision on his punishment for his on-field altercation with San Francisco Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland on Monday, which followed a 98 mph fastball/purpose pitch to Harper’s front hip.
According to reports, Harper will begin serving his suspension today:
MLB has reduced Bryce Harper's suspension to 3 games. He'll begin serving it tonight, per source. Eligible to return Sunday at OAK.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 31, 2017
Dusty Baker told reporters last night that he thought four games was a bit much for the role Harper played in the brawl.
“I thought it was kind of harsh,” Baker said. “Especially when you’re the recipient of the act, so I’m glad Bryce is appealing it, and it would have taken a heck of a man to not do something reactionary in retaliation to being hit, because that ball hurts.”
Major League Baseball apparently agreed — to some extent — since they decided to lessen the length of the suspension by a day.
Bryce Harper's camp argued there was no notice of provocation, just a natural reaction to ball fired at him. #Nats— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) May 31, 2017
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this morning that he didn’t have any problem with the way Harper reacted.
“I was always taught, my dad always taught me, you get hit with a pitch, you have two ways to go,” Rizzo explained.
“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.”
It was all reportedly tied to the fact that Harper hit two [loooong] home runs in two at bats against Strickland back in the 2014 NLDS matchup between the Nats and Giants.
“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,” Rizzo said.
Harper said much the same before last night’s game.
“If he did have a problem,” Harper said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, “... he could have talked to me in BP about it and [said]: ‘I didn’t like the way you went about it.’ But that’s not human nature, I guess. I don’t know, it’s just part of the game, I guess.”
Rizzo expressed his anger at the lack of balance in the original punishments.
“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,” he told the Sports Junkies.
“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.”
Apparently Harper and the Nationals’ argument swayed Major League Baseball to some extent, but the Nats still have to play three games without their middle-of-the-order bat.
Three games for Bryce Harper vs six games for Hunter Strickland still doesn’t seem that balanced, but it’s better than four... I guess.