Giants reliever Hunter Strickland seemed more than willing to fight Bryce Harper, but Buster Posey and Bruce Bochy expressed their thoughts in different ways.
On Monday, in the top of the eighth inning, San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland hit Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the hip with a pitch. After a brief hesitation, Harper charged the mound, threw his helmet and each guy got a solid punch in.
The last time Harper faced Strickland, in a 2014 National League Division Series, he hit two home runs off the right-hander and clearly admired the second one. That seems to have fueled Strickland’s actions on Monday afternoon, even nearly three years later, but Giants catcher Buster Posey seemed to clearly pick a side as the fight ramped up.
Posey made absolutely no move to restrain Harper, as a catcher usually would, and thus keep him from reaching Strickland. An act of self-preservation, or simply trying to avoid a possible suspension that could come from getting involved in a brawl, perhaps. But FOX analyst Dontrelle Willis offered another potential layer.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was of course asked about the situation after the game, telling reporters it “looked bad” and he had talked to Strickland about situation and timing. That’s not exactly standing up for your pitcher, and as a former catcher himself it’s easy to envision Bochy doing exactly what Posey did under the same circumstance. With his body language, Posey seemed to say, “go get him, Bryce.”
Retaliation with the baseball as a weapon is always dangerous, and Strickland hit Harper with a 98 MPH fastball. It didn’t really accomplish much anyway, as Harper didn’t not back down from giving Strickland a fight he probably subconsciously wanted. In any case Posey and Bochy clearly think there’s a statute of limitations on retaliation, if it’s ever warranted.