Since the days of former Nationals’ slugger Bryce Harper charging the mound and fighting pitchers who plunked him, it appears the former NL MVP has calmed his nerves and learned to take the high road.
After Harper was hit in the face with a blistering, 97-mph fastball from St. Louis Cardinals lefty Genesis Cabrera, the batter offered an olive branch to the offending pitcher via text, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia insider Jim Salisbury.
Harper, 28, knew the plunking was unintentional, hence the empathetic text.
“Support that guy. That’s a standup guy,” Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt said of the message.
Cabrera did not appear to intentionally ding Harper as he also hit Didi Gregorious on the very next at-bat. In addition, Cabrera appeared immediately remorseful after the miscue, throwing his hands to his face and dropping to a squat to ensure Harper was okay. Harper indeed was cleared without a concussion after the pitch.
“That’s the thing with the game now is all these guys throw 95-100 and half of them don’t know where it’s going or know how to pitch. … You see these teams just call up these guys that throw 95 or 100 mph and the team doesn’t really care. They’re just trying to see if they have anything in them,” Zimmerman said earlier this week.
The numbers support Zimmerman’s point. After a 2019 season which saw a record number of hit-by-pitches, this year’s MLB campaign is on pace to set a new record.
“A couple years ago, these guys would be in Double-A or Triple-A for another year trying to learn how to pitch but these teams just call them up to see if they can kinda hit lightning in a bottle. If not, they send them back down,” Zimmerman continued. “They don’t care if they hit four guys on the other team. What does it matter to them? The GM of the other team is not in the box, so he doesn’t care. It’s a different kind of game but it is what it is and that’s where we’re at.”
Luckily, Harper was able to walk away unscathed. However, the recent trend of velocity-over-control in the MLB presents a scary prospect for batters league-wide.