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Dusty Baker on Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland: ‘You just play’

Hunter Strickland and Bryce Harper could meet again this weekend. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nationals and Giants will begin a three-game series Friday night at Nationals Park, which means, with very little at stake between first-place Washington (68-45, 15-game lead in the NL East) and last-place San Francisco (46-70, 19 games out of a playoff spot), one of the prevalent story lines is the animosity between Hunter Strickland and Bryce Harper.

Odds are the two face will each other at some point this weekend. The last time they met, on Memorial Day at AT&T Park, Strickland plunked Harper because he didn’t appreciate Harper’s long admiration of a home run in the 2014 NLDS. Harper knew it was intentional and charged the mound, throwing his helmet at Strickland before the two exchanged haymakers in a rare legitimate baseball brawl. Harper received a four-game suspension, which was later reduced to three games upon appeal. Strickland was suspended for six games.

So will any tension carry over? Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said that’s up to Strickland.

“I didn’t think about it, really,” Baker said. “That’s a long time, but it was a long time between the playoffs and the last time. So who knows; it’s kind of on him. Bryce, he’s not pitching, so there’s nothing that we can do to him because he probably won’t get an at-bat. So what are you going to do? You just play.”

Strickland has been one of the very few bright spots in a lost season for the Giants. He has a 2.09 ERA in 48 games, though he’s walking 5.2 batters per nine innings for a bullpen that hasn’t allowed an earned run in its last 18 2/3 innings.

His performance has helped San Francisco better absorb the loss of closer Mark Melancon, who hasn’t pitched since June 22 because of a strained elbow. The right-hander, however, is expected to be activated Saturday. Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million over the offseason after a couple months with the Nationals. He has a 4.35 ERA in just 22 outings.

GIANTS (46-70)
Denard Span CF
Joe Panik 2B
Jarrett Parker LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Brandon Crawford SS
Hunter Pence RF
Ryder Jones 1B
Nick Hundley C
Chris Stratton RHP

Brian Goodwin CF
Wilmer Difo SS
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Adam Lind LF
Matt Wieters C
Edwin Jackson RHP

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