Bryce Harper and the Nationals were informed that the outfielder will not be fined or suspended for being ejected from Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
That news is the latest sign that Major League Baseball might feel umpire John Hirschbeck acted too hastily in ejecting Harper after he showed his disagreement over a check-swing call in the first inning.
“That’s Major League Baseball’s decision,” Harper said. “I respect that, definitely. If I was to get fined, I’d respect that, too.”
Harper, who joked that it was $1,000 staying in his pocket, said he had not heard from Hirschbeck since the incident.
“It’s in the past,” he said. “Just a little step to step over and start playing ball again.”
Harper was ruled to have swung for strike three by Hirschbeck, the third base umpire. Voicing his disagreement with the call, Harper threw his hands in the air. Hirschbeck then mimicked him, and ejected him from the game shortly thereafter.
While the umpire cited Harper for “throwing” his bat and “slamming” his helmet, replays showed that Harper did neither with much ferocity.
“I didn’t like that he put his hands up with the bat,” Hirschbeck told a pool reporter at the time. “That’s kind of what I yelled at him. He continued and threw his bat. I kind of pointed like ‘That’s equipment.’ And he still continued and slammed his helmet down. That’s when I ejected him.”
The league was said to be reviewing Hirschbeck’s actions in the ejection.
Manager Davey Johnson said the ejection might’ve done the manager a favor because he’d been wanting to give Harper, who slammed the left side of his body into the scoreboard at Turner Field last Tuesday night, a day off. With Tuesday night’s rainout, Harper will now have almost three full days to rest the contusion on his side.
“It’s feeling a little better,” Harper said on Tuesday. “Those past four, five days we were on the road it didn’t feel very good. But we had a good road series and I think getting back home and playing against Detroit and the Cubs is going to be good for us.
“It didn’t feel very good at all, but I tried to play through it as best I could and tried to be in that lineup everyday. Even if I’m feeling bad I’m trying to stay in that lineup.”
Harper was given a steady diet of inside pitches during the series with the Pirates, as were many of the Nationals’ hitters, but neither Harper nor Johnson seemed to point to the bruise on his side as being a reason for that plan of attack against Harper, who is off to a tremendous start to his sophomore season.
Harper enters Wednesday hitting .312 with a .400 on-base percentage and a .633 slugging percentage. He’s tallied 16 extra-base hits, including nine home runs, and walked 16 times in his first 109 at-bats this season.
He was just 1-for-10 in Pittsburgh, however, and 2-for-16 since he slammed into the scoreboard in Atlanta.
“I’m not going to make any excuses because my side hurts,” Harper said. “I’m still going to try to go up there and do well and square things up and do well for my team.”