On the same day that MLB suspended Ryan Dempster for throwing at Alex Rodriguez in a game he wasn’t ejected from Stephen Strasburg has avoided a suspension for throwing at Andrelton Simmons in a game he was ejected from.
No official announcement has been made yet, but Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Nationals manager Davey Johnson has also avoided a suspension stemming from Saturday’s incident in which Strasburg plunked Justin Upton in the hip and then later threw consecutive pitches behind Simmons.
Strasburg and Johnson were both ejected because warnings had been issued previously, although they each insisted afterward that the pitches were due to wildness and were not premeditated. Given the previous animosity between the two teams–and the multiple plunkings of Bryce Harper by Braves pitchers recently–that was a hard sell for many people. But apparently not MLB.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.