Major League Baseball decided to not suspend or fine Bryce Harper after reviewing his ejection Sunday in the first inning. The league will also not suspend veteran umpire John Hirschbeck, whose actions in throwing out Harper came under fine in many corners as overly zealous.
“That’s great,” Harper said. “I’m glad I don’t have to pay the $1,000. That’s another $1,000 in my pocket. That’s MLB’s decision. I respect that, definitely. If I was to get fined, I’d respect that, too.”
Between getting thrown out Sunday, a scheduled off day Monday and tonight’s rainout, Harper received three straight days off. Manager Davey Johnson saw Harper’s ejection as a silver lining, because it provided a day to rest his bruised left side.
Last Tuesday night in Atlanta, Harper crashed into the chain-link outfield fence trying to rob a home run. He left midway through the next night’s game because of a bruise, and he played through it for the remainder of the Nationals’ road trip.
“Those past four or five days we were on the road, it didn’t feel very good,” Harper said. “But we had a good road series. … I tried to be in the lineup every day as best I could. That’s the goal. Even if I’m feeling bad, I’m trying to stay in that lineup.”
Since Harper collided with the wall, he has gone 2 for 18 with two walks and no extra-base hits. His OPS has dropped from 1.181 to 1.033. He admitted the bruising had affected him at the plate.
“You could say that,” Harper said. “But I’m not going to make any excuses because my side hurts. I’m still going to try to go up there and try to square things up and try to do the best I can for the team.”
In one plate appearance in Pittsburgh, Harper opted to try to bunt his way on, but he fouled it back. Despite his power, Harper has occasionally tried to drop bunt singles all season.
“I like to bunt,” Harper said. “Maybe it doesn’t work out that well for me most of the time. But it’s a good thing to have in your back pocket. It’s something I like to do and did a lot in the minor leagues. It may be a little harder up here, because guys throw harder and have better stuff.”