Harper ejected in first inning

Harper ejected in first inning
May 5, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Mark Zuckerman talks about Harper ejection

Updated at 5:55 p.m.

PITTSBURGH — Bryce Harper may or may not have done anything out of line to warrant an ejection in the top of the first inning Sunday afternoon, and umpire John Hirschbeck may or may not have overreacted to the 20-year-old's complaint about a check-swing call.

Whatever the case, Harper knew it would do him no good to get into a war of words with the veteran umpire after the fact, so the young Nationals star was careful not to say anything that might cause a stir following his team's 6-2 victory over the Pirates.

"I'm just glad we got the W, and I wasn't the reason we didn't," Harper said.

The game had only just begun when Hirschbeck rung up Harper on a borderline check-swing call, ending the top of the first. As the Pirates trotted off the field, Harper remained at the plate, throwing his arms out in disbelief. Hirschbeck, standing 90 feet away, immediately mimicked the motion and started jawing at Harper, taking a few steps his way before ejecting the 20-year-old after he slammed his bat and helmet to the ground.

"I was actually just being nice," Hirschbeck told a pool reporter. "Even the hands up in the air is showing me up, to me. I could have ejected him right then. I was nice enough to leave him in the game. And then he slammed his bat down. And then on top of that, he slammed his helmet. I had no other recourse, really."

This was the second time Harper has been ejected in his brief career — he was tossed August 29 in Miami when he spiked his helmet to the ground after grounding into a double play in the ninth inning of a game in which he had homered twice — and manager Davey Johnson said his young outfielder needs to learn from the experience. He also said Hirschbeck needed to handle the situation better.
"I got on John a little bit: 'John, he’s young, temperamental, he raised the bat,'" Johnson said. "He didn’t have to walk towards him. But he made the right call. But Harp's gotta understand that's what happens."

Asked by the pool reporter about the notion that fans are paying to see Harper on the field, Hirschbeck replied: "He needs to think of that next time and keep himself in the game. It's not my job. It's his job."