Harper gets ban re­duced by 1 game

Drops ap­peal of 3-game sus­pen­sion

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

Bryce Harper’s four-game sus­pen­sion was re­duced to three games fol­low­ing an ap­peal. The Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ MVP can­di­date ac­cepted that rul­ing and sat out Wed­nes­day night’s fi­nale against the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants, and will sit out the first two games of a three-game se­ries with the Oak­land A’s, which be­gins Fri­day.

Harper was sus­pended for charg­ing the mound in the eighth in­ning of Mon­day’s game af­ter San Fran­cisco re­liever Hunter Strick­land hit Harper in the rear with a 98 mph fast­ball. The Na­tion­als were lead­ing, 2-0, at the time.

Harper and Strick­land had dis­tant his­tory with each other. Harper hit two home runs off Strick­land — who al­lowed a post­sea­son record six home runs in 2014 — when the teams played in the Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries that year. The Gi­ants won the se­ries and World Se­ries that sea­son. Strick­land claimed he was try­ing to pitch in­side to Harper on Mon­day. It’s hard to find some­one who believes him.

Strick­land was sus­pended six games for his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fi­asco. His pitch — and ap­par­ently sin­gu­lar de­ci­sion not sup­ported by the ac­tions of San Fran­cisco catcher Buster Posey and com­ments from man­ager Bruce Bochy after­ward — led to a fist fight be­tween him and Harper, play­ers from both sides sprint­ing onto the field and one of Strick­land’s team­mates, Michael Morse, re­ceiv­ing a con­cus­sion dur­ing the melee.

Strick­land has also ap­pealed his sus­pen­sion. There was no word Wed­nes­day

if it would be re­duced.

The in­ci­dent sparked mul­ti­ple lay­ers of dis­cus­sion. Should Harper have been sus­pended at all, and, if so, was his sus­pen­sion ex­ces­sive? Should the league do more to pre­vent rare, dugoutemp­ty­ing brawls? If Harper had not charged the mound, would Strick­land have been rep­ri­manded in any way? Is there a more fair mechanism for time of sus­pen­sion when com­par­ing an ev­ery day player to a re­liever?

Strick­land had pitched five in­nings in the pre­vi­ous 16 days. Harper, an MVP can­di­date, had 44 at­bats. The Gi­ants will lose a re­liever for roughly five in­nings or fewer if Strick­land’s sus­pen­sion stands. Wash­ing­ton loses its right fielder for 27 in­nings.

The dis­ci­pline de­liv­ered by MLB’s chief base­ball of­fi­cer, Joe Torre, showed the league viewed Strick­land as pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent. It also showed that the league will not tol­er­ate one of its stars get­ting in an on-field fist fight, no mat­ter what spurred the sit­u­a­tion.

The break for Harper comes amid a small slump. He is hit­ting just .143 dur­ing the last seven days. Harper was 0-for-5 with three strike­outs and eight men left on base Tues­day night against the Gi­ants. He is hit­ting .322 with 15 home runs this sea­son.

The sus­pen­sion and up­com­ing sched­ule will pro­vide him with four days off. He will re­turn to the Na­tion­als’ lineup Sun­day against Oak­land. Serv­ing the sus­pen­sion now al­lows Harper to be pre­pared for the Na­tion­als’ three-game se­ries in Los An­ge­les against the Dodgers. It is the first meet­ing be­tween the teams since Los An­ge­les beat Wash­ing­ton, 3-2, in last sea­son’s Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als oufielder Bryce Harper be­gan his three-game sus­pen­sion on Wed­nes­day for his in­volve­ment in Mon­day’s fight with Gi­ants pitcher Hunter Strick­land.

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