The Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) is pulled away from the San Francisco Giants Jeff Samardzija, left, by teammate Daniel Murphy (2) during the eighth inning of their game on Monday, May 29, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif. Harper was hit by a pitch from the Giants Hunter Strickland that started a fight between the two teams. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
SAN FRANCISCO – Bryce Harper said he was too engrossed with watching the Food Network to check out replays of Monday’s fight with Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland. Harper didn’t express an opinion about the four-game suspension he received for charging the mound.
But Harper did offer one view, and it was about Giants catcher Buster Posey, who has taken criticism in some corners for deciding to remain behind the plate as the Nationals hitter charged at Strickland.
“I just think a lot of their guys were shocked,” Harper said. “Buster was definitely shocked and not looking for that to happen. I’m not really sure what was going through his head or anybody else’s, but definitely they looked shocked.”
Harper did not indicate he was looking for Strickland to apologize for hitting him with a first-pitch fastball to the hip in the eighth inning.
“It’s part of the game, I guess,” said Harper, who hadn’t faced Strickland since he hit two home runs against the pitcher in the 2014 NL Division Series. “I mean, it’s so crazy that it happened. I was sitting there talking to my parents this morning at breakfast. It’s just crazy that it even happened yesterday. After three years, to do that, I don’t know what was going through his mind or how upset he was the last couple years.
“If he did have a problem, he could’ve talked to me in BP about it and say: ‘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. It’s just a crazy situation. I can’t believe it happened.”
Harper is in the lineup Tuesday because he is appealing his suspension, hoping to get it reduced. If he drags out the appeal through the weekend, he could end up serving his suspension when the Nationals start a series at Dodger Stadium on Monday – one more way the Giants could be disadvantaged by the incident.
Harper singled out one other Giants player who might have intended him harm, saying that Jeff Samardzija “saw blood a little bit” when he led the charge from the dugout and was among the first players to reach the combatants. Giants first baseman Michael Morse, a former teammate of Harper’s with the Nats, rushed in from the opposite side and collided with Samardzija.
“As I was going out there, your first reaction is you might get blindsided by one of their players coming in,” Harper said. “I’m kind of thankful that Mikey Mo and Samardzija collided, because Samardzija saw blood a little bit, I thought. I’m very thankful for Mikey Mo.
“That’s a big spot with him coming in there. You never know. Their whole team’s out there, and my team’s coming behind me. You never know. I’m very thankful for Mikey Mo.”
Samardzija is on the mound for the Giants on Tuesday. The right-hander already meted out an apparent payback pitch once this season, when he hit the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt in apparent retaliation after Posey had gotten drilled on the helmet by Arizona’s Taijuan Walker a day earlier.
The situation is different this time. The Nationals are the aggrieved team.
“Hopefully both sides just go about it and play the game and not really worry about things that happened in the past,” Harper said. “That’s going to suck if I get hit again. If they do hit me, I don’t know. If they hit me in the same spot, it’s going to hurt really bad. I hope not. I don’t think Samardzija would do that, would want to start that. I think a lot of their guys were shocked yesterday. You could see it in all their faces and reactions.”