Major League Baseball announced it has suspended Cole Hamels for five games after the Phillies left-hander acknowledged he intentionally hit Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a fastball during the first inning of last night's game.
The punishment, handed down by MLB's senior vice president of standards and on-field operations, Joe Garagiola Jr., also includes an undisclosed fine.
The five-game suspension, common for pitchers because it typically forces them to miss one start, could actually have no effect on Hamels' schedule. The Phillies have been planning to activate lefty Cliff Lee off the disabled list Wednesday, and with a day off Thursday, they can bring back ace Roy Halladay on normal rest to pitch Saturday, allowing Hamels to return from his suspension Sunday and technically not miss a start.
Hamels drilled Harper with a first-pitch fastball in the bottom of the first inning of last night's nationally televised game. Harper proceeded to go first-to-third on a routine single to left, then stole home as Hamels made a pickoff throw to first.
After the game, Hamels publicly acknowledged the purpose of his pitch to the 19-year-old.
"I was trying to hit him," the 2008 World Series MVP said. "I'm not going to deny it. That's just -- you know what, it's something that I grew up watching, that's what happened, so I'm just trying to continue the old baseball -- I think some people kind of get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything just because that's the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball."
Told of Hamels' comments after the game, Harper took the high road.
"He's a great guy, great pitcher and knows how to pitch," Harper said. "He's an All-Star. It's all good."
It does not appear Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who hit Hamels in the knee with a pitch in the third inning, has been punished at all by MLB. Zimmermann insisted he was not retaliating for the Harper beaning.
"No," the right-hander said. "I mean, he was bunting, and I'm going to take an out when I can get an out. I was trying to go away, and just cut a fastball really, really bad and unfortunately hit him in the knee."