San Francisco Chronicle
A day after San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson was slapped by Tommy Pham of the Cincinnati Reds, Pham was suspended three games “for inappropriate conduct.”The Major League Baseball-imposed suspension started Friday, the day Pham hit Pederson and was strongly encouraged by MLB not to play that night’s series opener.
“I think anytime one individual strikes another individual, it’s serious,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said, “and it’s just something we all know can’t happen in a workplace.”
A video circulated Saturday showing Pham taking a mighty swipe at Pederson’s left cheek and Pederson not fighting back. Quickly, coaches and players from both sides rushed to the scene.
Pederson said after Friday’s night’s opener that the incident resulted from a fantasy football beef in which Pham accused him of cheating with a player transaction, though Pederson suggested it wasn’t cheating and that Pham had done something similar.
Saturday, Pham spoke to reporters and said he didn’t appreciate Pederson’s text about the San Diego Padres, Pham’s former team, and “(messing) with my money.”
“Yesterday, man, I slapped Joc,” he said. “He did some s— I don’t condone. I had to address it. There was some s— that went on in fantasy. What he forgot to tell you guys, too, is he said some disrespectful s— in a text message, and I called him out on it. It was regarding my former team.”
Pham was referring to the San Diego Padres, who were highly represented in the high-stakes fantasy league, and he said the incident wasn’t race related. A reporter shared Pham’s comment with Pederson, who responded after Saturday’s game.
“It’s true, there was a lot of money involved in it. I did send a GIF in the group chat that was making fun of the Padres,” Pederson said. “In the group chat, there were four or five Padres, and I’m kind of close with a couple of them. It was supposed to be a friendly thing making fun of them playing bad. He did not like that and responded.”
At that point, Pederson began reading Pham’s text from his phone: ” ‘Joc, I don’t know you well enough to make any jokes like this.’ I wrote back, ‘It was meant to be all fun and games. No hard feelings. Sorry if you took it that way.’ About two weeks later, after like week four or five, he ended up leaving the league, and there’s been no communication since.
“But it is true, I sent a GIF making fun of the Padres, and if I hurt anyone’s feelings, I apologize for that.”
A reporter asked Pederson to show the GIF, and it was three weight lifters representing the Giants, Dodgers and Padres with the Padre lifter collapsing. The Giants and Dodgers won 107 and 106 games, respectively, while the Padres won just 79.
“They were a really good team,” Pederson said of the Padres. “It was kind of making fun of how they were not playing well to make the playoffs with a very talented team. It was supposed to be lighthearted, and I understand everyone takes jokes differently, and like I said, I apologize for that and am looking to move past this and show up tomorrow with no distractions and try to help this team win ballgames.”
Pham was in the Reds’ lineup Friday night but got scratched moments before the first pitch, which was delayed more than two hours because of rain. It gave extra time for MLB to investigate the matter, speak with both clubs and, according to Pham, pressure him not to play. The Giants were on board with that, too. So he was scratched. That counts as part of the three-game suspension, which Pham said he won’t appeal.
Regarding the fantasy league, Pham said Pederson broke “a code.”
“I’m a big dog in Vegas. I’m a high-roller at many casinos. You can look at my credit line. We were playing big money,” Pham said. “I don’t have to get into the details of how much, but I look at it like if you lost, you had to pay double. If you came in last place, you had to pay double. So I looked at it like he was f—ing with my money along with the disrespect.”
In the end, Kapler praised Pederson for not escalating the altercation.
“We always talk about being even and non-reactionary, I don’t think anybody exemplified that more than Joc yesterday across the board,” Kapler said. “He was able to manage everything that happened on the field with Tommy and then come in the clubhouse and have to deal with a lot of conversations and then get ready to compete in the batter’s box.”
John Shea is The San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @JohnSheaHey
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