Phillies’ Bryce Harper hit by pitch in face, ‘feels good’

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS — Phillies star Bryce Harper said he feels fine after being hit in the face by a 96.9 mph fastball, forcing him from Philadelphia’s game against St. Louis.

“Everything feels good,” Harper said in a video he posted to Instagram. He said he got a CT scan and other testing and “Everything came back good.”

Harper was drilled in the left cheek by left-handed reliever Genesis Cabrera‘s first pitch in the sixth inning. The All-Star slugger picked himself up and walked off the field, blood dripping from a cut on the side of his nose.

He appeared to have only minor swelling and bruising in the video he sent to social media.

“Face is still there, so we’re all good,” he said.

Cabrera drilled Didi Gregorius with another fastball on his next pitch. Phillies manager Joe Girardi came out of the dugout to argue with plate umpire Chris Segal and was ejected.

Matt Joyce ran for Harper, and Gregorius remained in the game. Cabrera allowed an RBI single to Andrew McCutchen the next at-bat before being pulled.

“I’ve been hit in the face, broke my nose. It’s scary,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he did it on purpose. I’m not saying that. But for the protection of the players, he has to go.”

Cabrera, through translator Antonio Mujica, expressed remorse for his pitching.

“I’m very sorry for Bryce Harper,” Cabrera said. “I want to again to apologize to all of the action that happened, especially to Harper. I really wish him the best and I hope he has a speedy recovery. The game got away from me. I’m really sorry for everything that happened. It was not intentional.”

Under the three-batter minimum rule for relievers, Cabrera had to stay in. McCutchen followed with his RBI single.

“Man, that was tough watching that,” McCutchen said.

St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said he would have pulled Cabrera if he could have.

“It was a tie game. It was right in his spot,” Shildt said. “It was completely unfortunate the ball got away from him. Our prayers are with Bryce Harper and we hope he’s OK.

“It’s a failure of the three-batter minimum. Completely, absolutely no doubt. You’re talking about an aggressive young pitcher throwing to one of the superstars of this game. Clearly, he felt terrible. Everybody knows it was completely unintentional.”

Harper grounded out and struck out in his first two at-bats. Gregorius doubled and struck out in his two at-bats.

Harper, in the third year of a $330 million, 13-year deal, entered the game hitting .329, including .432 over his last 10 games.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.