After that game, Hamels said he intentionally hit Harper in the lower back in the first inning, and Rizzo responded by telling the Washington Post on Monday that he took exception to Hamels' comment. Hamels ended up getting a five-game suspension and was fined an undisclosed amount of money.
"I've never seen a more classless, gutless [expletive] act in my 30 years in baseball," Rizzo said to the Post. "Cole Hamels says he's old school? He's the polar opposite of old school. He's fake tough. He thinks he's going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who's eight games into the big leagues? He doesn't know who he's dealing with."
On Tuesday, Rizzo declined to talk about being fined or anything about Hamels. However, Rizzo praised Harper for being professional after getting hit by the pitch. After getting drilled, Harper advanced to third on a single by Jayson Werth. Harper was then able to pay Hamels back by stealing home while the pitcher tried to pick off Werth at first base. Harper is the second player in Nationals history to steal home, and the first to do so on a straight steal. Ian Desmond stole home as part of a double steal on April 20, 2011, against the Cardinals.
"[Harper] took it, went to first base, he showed good instincts of going from first to third, then putting it into play what Jayson, [third-base coach] Bo Porter and Bryce discussed in a pregame meeting -- the move that Cole had, and it worked perfectly. Bryce was terrific," Rizzo said.
"We never questioned [Bryce's] character from Day One. We said, 'This is a good kid. He is a family-oriented kid that loves his brothers and sisters, mom and dad.' We never saw one sign of a guy with bad makeup. He plays extremely hard on the field, and sometimes that rubs [opposing] teams the wrong way. Never one time did I hear a person on his team that said a bad thing about him."
Harper remained positive when talking about Hamels and the suspension Hamels received.
"It's totally fine. Cole is a great pitcher, he is an All-Star, and there is nothing I can say about it," Harper said. "It's in the past. Like I said before, he is an unbelievable pitcher. He knows what he is doing out there. I have a lot of respect for the guy. The Phillies' pitchers have been there, done that. One through five are pretty strong. I have a lot of respect for them."
Hamels began serving his suspension Monday, but will rejoin the Philadelphia rotation against the Padres on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less