SAN FRANCISCO -- Major League Baseball announced disciplinary action for Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland on Tuesday for their roles in the fracas Monday afternoon at AT&T Park. Strickland has been suspended for six games and was fined an undisclosed amount for throwing at Harper, who was suspended for four games and also fined for charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Strickland.
Both players appealed their suspensions and were eligible to play while the appeal process plays out. Harper's suspension was reduced to three games on Wednesday, a source told MLB.com. He will not play in Wednesday night's game.
The four-game suspension for Harper was in line with the norm, matching the punishment Manny Machado received last season for charging the mound and throwing punches against the Royals. Meanwhile, Strickland's six-game suspension is the longest for a reliever after a purpose pitch since Fernando Abad received a six-game suspension in 2014.
"I'm obviously not thrilled about it, but it's their call and we'll go from there," Strickland said. "Whatever they ultimately decide, I'll own it and take the responsibility."
"You never know what Major League Baseball is going to do, or the Players' Association, or things like that," Harper said. "It's always in their hands, so there's nothing the players can do about what's fair, what's not fair. Like I said, just going to appeal that four games and see what happens."
With two outs in the eighth inning of Washington's 3-0 win, Strickland hit Harper on his right hip with a 98-mph fastball. Harper immediately pointed toward and yelled at Strickland, then charged the mound. Harper launched his helmet past the mound before the two started exchanging blows as both benches cleared. Both players were ejected from the game.
It was the first matchup between the two players since the 2014 National League Division Series, when Harper hit a pair of home runs off Strickland, the last of which was a long homer into McCovey Cove that Harper stood and admired then barked at Strickland as he rounded the bases. San Francisco got the last laugh that fall, going on to win the World Series, which is why Harper said he was so surprised that Strickland still held this grudge.
"It's just crazy that it even happened yesterday," Harper said. "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.'"
Strickland said he carried no regrets about the situation and said he was ready to put the previous day in the past. Giants catcher Buster Posey was also ready to put the situation at rest. He drew ire for his lack of response during the fracas, as he did not immediately jump in when Harper began charging toward the mound.
"I don't have anything to [say] about yesterday," Posey said. "I'm focused on today."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he has had conversations with both Strickland and Posey, however, he preferred to keep them internal. Strickland also noted that he had no issues with the way Posey handled the situation.
"I know Buster's got our back," Strickland said. "We as a whole group, as a team, stay together."
The Nationals believed Harper should have received a less severe suspension than Strickland because he was just reacting to what Strickland had started. And although Harper did not have much of an opinion, Nats manager Dusty Baker thought Harper's punishment was still too severe.
"I thought it was kind of harsh, especially when you're the recipient of the act," Baker said. "It would have taken a heck of a man not to do something reactionary in retaliation for being hit."
Harper charging the mound Monday afternoon also seems likely to serve as the only retaliation as Washington seemed ready prior to Tuesday's game to put this episode behind them. Harper said he hoped both sides just "play the game." Baker also reiterated that he was glad no one got seriously hurt during the incident and that this whole thing was over.
"I don't think retaliation is the key in this situation," Baker said. "I know Bruce Bochy didn't give the command or order. I could tell the way Buster Posey reacted that he had nothing to do with it. In my mind, it was more of a selfish, not a team act, but a selfish act on [Strickland's] part. ... So the best thing for us to do is beat up on them and win tonight."