MLB suspends Harper 4 games, Strickland 6

Star Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been suspended four games and San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland six for their involvement in Monday’s brawl.

MLB handed down the suspensions Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the benches-clearing incident.

Strickland was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount for what MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre said was “intentionally hitting Harper with a pitch, inciting the bench-clearing incident and fighting.”

In addition to his suspension, Harper was fined an undisclosed amount for “charging the mound, throwing his helmet and fighting,” according to Torre.

“You can’t really worry about what MLB is going to do because you never know,” Harper said Tuesday. “So, whatever they say goes. Just going to try to worry about the four games I got.”

Added Strickland: “I’m obviously not thrilled about it. It’s their call. We’ll go from there. Whatever they ultimately decide, I’ll own it and take the responsibility.”

Both players are appealing. Harper was starting in right field in Game 2 of the series Tuesday night in San Francisco. He said he hoped he wasn’t targeted by a pitch again.

“I mean, I hope not,” he said. “That’s gonna suck if I get hit again … I don’t know. I have no idea. If they hit me in the same spot it’s going to hurt really bad. I hope not. I don’t think [Tuesday starter Jeff] Samardzija would want to do that or start that or do that or anything like that. I think a lot of their guys were shocked yesterday, you could see it on a lot of their faces and the reactions from a lot of their players.”

Strickland plunked Harper in the hip with a 98 mph fastball. Harper then gestured at Strickland with his bat, strode to the mound and threw his helmet at the Giants pitcher before the two exchanged blows as the benches cleared.

It was the first time the two had met since Harper hit two home runs off Strickland during the 2014 National League Division Series between the Nationals and Giants.

Harper said if Strickland had a problem with him, the reliever could have approached him before Monday’s melee, but added: “That’s not human nature, I guess.”

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters and Harper said the brawl could have been more serious if that hadn’t happened.

“As I was going out there, the first initial reaction is you might get blindsided by one of their players coming in,” he said. “I’m kind of thankful that Mikey Mo and Samardzija collided because Samardzija saw blood a little bit I thought. Very thankful for Mikey Mo.”

One player who didn’t join the fray was Giants catcher Buster Posey, who stood and watched as Harper rushed the mound and then stayed to the edges of the fight. While much was made on social media about Posey’s inaction, Strickland said there was no need for Posey to explain himself.

“I know Buster has our back,” Strickland said. “We as a whole group and team, we stick together. That’s never a worry of mine.”

Harper had his own theory on why Posey stayed out of the mix.

“I think a lot of their guys were shocked,” Harper said. “Buster was definitely shocked and not looking for that to happen.”

Both Harper and Strickland were ejected Monday. It was the first time Harper had been tossed for fighting in a game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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