Bryce Harper suspended one game, playing tonight after appeal

Bryce Harper has been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for his actions following his ninth-inning ejection Monday night, but the reigning National League MVP is appealing the decision and remains eligible to play for the Nationals tonight against former teammate Jordan Zimmermann.

Harper was suspended by Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB’s senior vice president of standards and on-field operations, who in a news release announcing the punishment said it was “for his actions following his ninth inning ejection, which included returning to the field.”

harper-in-dugout-hoodie-sidebar.pngHarper was ejected by plate umpire Brian Knight after teammate Danny Espinosa was called out on a borderline pitch in the bottom of the ninth Monday during what at the time was a tie game with the Tigers. Harper, along with many others in the Nationals dugout, could be seen yelling at Knight following the call, but the umpire immediately singled out Harper (who had argued his own called third strike earlier in the game).

Only moments after the ejection, pinch-hitter Clint Robinson hit a game-winning home run, prompting the entire Nationals dugout to spill onto the field in celebration. In the scrum was Harper, who went out of his way to stare down Knight and curse at him just before Robinson jumped into the pile.

“I was pretty upset,” Harper said after the game. “I think I was right to do that. Let him hear what I have to say, let him hear it again. And so what? Couple choice words.”

Asked at the time if he thought he’d be fined for his words, Harper said: “If I do, I do. I’ll pay it. Maybe he’ll get fined, too. So we’ll see.”

Because he is appealing the punishment, Harper is allowed to continue playing until a hearing takes place. He could also choose to drop the appeal at any point before then, in essence giving him the opportunity to pick a more convenient game to miss.

Harper, currently batting .252 with 10 homers, 27 RBIs and 34 walks (17 of which have come in the last six games alone), is in his customary spot batting third for the Nationals in tonight’s series finale against the Tigers.

The Nationals, who are handing out Harper MVP bobbleheads to the first 25,000 fans through the gates, are expecting a large crowd for this game, which also pits a showdown of pitchers facing their former clubs: Zimmermann vs. the Nats, Max Scherzer vs. the Tigers.

Update: Harper spoke after tonight’s game about the suspension and his appeal.

“I think the union, they’ll take care of that and figure out what happens,” he said. “I think the only person that I’m pretty upset that saw it was my mom. I told her, ‘Sorry.’ I texted her after the game. So I think those are certain things that just happen. You live and you learn. Nothing I can do.”

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