Harper not surprised by Atlanta plunking
Whether it was the way he walked out of the box after hitting the homer or the time he took around the bases, something about Bryce Harper’s third inning solo shot evidently bothered Julio Teheran.
The Braves starter retaliated in the fifth inning by beaning Harper with a 94 mile per hour fastball in the right thigh, igniting a near brawl that saw both benches and bullpens clear and warnings issued to both teams.
After getting hit in the leg Harper tossed his bat and stepped towards Teheran, yelling and pointing at him, clearly displeased with what he felt was an intentional strike. Teheran walked off the mound and towards Harper before home plate umpire Joe West jumped in Harper’s way to diffuse what nearly became an ugly situation.
Teheran said he was surprised with Harper’s reaction, sticking to his story that he was just trying to throw a fastball in and it got away from him. Harper on the other hand, wasn’t surprised Teheran would target him after the homer.
“I hit that ball pretty far off him, so no, not really,” he said.
Teheran claimed afterwards he didn’t even notice Harper walk slowly after the 437 foot bomb to center field, he didn’t even look at him as he rounded the bases.
“I didn’t watch it. I didn’t watch it at all,” Teheran said.
But his teammates did watch and had a different take.
“He walked on it a little bit and I guess Julio didn’t like it,” Freddie Freeman said. “After you hit a home run and the next thing you know the pitch is coming at you, I think everyone’s going to have a reaction.”
“He sat there for a little bit, but it is what it is,” Brian McCann said.
McCann ran out on the field to get in Harper’s face, jawing at him over West’s shoulder as Harper walked towards first. He had little to say about the situation, only that he was doing his job.
“I’m there to protect my team, my pitcher, that’s about it. That’s it,” McCann said.
Freeman was on first as Harper took the base on the hit-by-pitch. He said it was a little different than the usual first baseman and baserunner interaction.
“Once he got down to first base he said nothing. He was I think still mad. Usually I talk to everybody, but I left him alone.”
Though no punches were thrown, the skirmish brought every player from both teams on the field, even Atlanta’s Jason Heyward who left the game in the first inning with a neck strain. He called the situation just a part of the game.
“I was out there,” he said. “It is just an unwritten rule, it’s part of baseball. It’s part of the competition to be out there for your teammates. Everybody does, it’s just the way it goes.”
Heyward continued to say he didn’t blame Harper for his response to being hit, he and his teammates understand why the situation escalated to that point.
“However you react, I’m not going to judge anybody there. Whether they hurt someone or hurt themselves, that’s a different story. But as far as reacting, feel free. We get it,” he said.
“We’re competing out here. It’s competition. Whoever didn’t come to see this series from this area here, they kind of blew it. This is a good series to watch. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Nats did not retaliate by throwing at anyone, they continued to play the game to win without giving any free passes. The next batter, Ryan Zimmerman, swung for the fences and nearly hit a homer to left field. His manager, Davey Johnson, said that was the appropriate response.
“That’s the way you answer that sort of thing,” he said. “You file it for future reference.”
The Nats and Braves play again on Wednesday and seven total times the rest of the season. Perhaps sometime later this year the timing will be right for Washington to have a response of their own.