MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Words traded after Cingrani plunks Harper

Words traded after Cingrani plunks Harper

CINCINNATI -- Bryce Harper is one of the game's best players right now, so one could understand his feelings after he was hit in the back by a pitch thrown by the Reds' Tony Cingrani during the Nationals' 5-2 loss on Friday.

In the seventh inning, with Denard Span on second, Cingrani replaced right-hander Jumbo Diaz to face Harper. On the first pitch, Cingrani hit Harper, who was clearly upset. Harper threw his bat near the Nationals' dugout and slowly walked to first, where he exchanged words with first baseman Joey Votto.

After the game, though, Harper sounded as if he understood Cingrani wasn't trying to hit him on purpose.

"Just got away from him," Harper said. "It's part of the game. Just got away, nothing I could do. Just hit me."

Said Cingrani: "I threw it as hard as I could, and it ran up and in and hit him. What are you going to do? He should have jogged, but what are you going to do? Be a baseball player. Sorry I hit you, run."

"I don't remember. I don't what you're talking about," Votto said, smiling, when asked about the conversation with Harper. "I really like him as a hitter. What a great player. I bet on Bryce. Man, he's doing great."

"No one likes to get hit," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "If you bring in a relief pitcher and the first pitch comes out and hits the first hitter on the back, nobody is going to feel too good about that. The immediate emotion is to think it is intentional. We're certainly not going to bring in a lefty to hit him and have to face [Ryan] Zimmerman with a lefty-righty matchup. Guys get [angry] when they get hit, I get it. I don't think it will escalate. It would have to be on their side to do something, and we certainly weren't trying to hit anybody in that situation."

Harper came back to face closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning and singled on a 102-mph fastball.

"Close your eyes and swing. That guy, he's tough out there," Harper said about Chapman. "He throws a 92-mph cutter, 102 mph, I mean, he's definitely very tough out there, and I was trying to square something up, not do too much, because the bigger you get against him, the worse it gets."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Reds beat reporter Mark Sheldon contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.