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A day after Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels stoked the budding rivalry between his team and the Washington Nationals by hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch and then admitting that he did it intentionally, Major League Baseball responded by suspending the left-hander for five games and hitting him with an undisclosed fine.
Hamels, who has said he will not file an appeal, will begin serving his suspension Monday night, when the Phillies are slated to host the New York Mets. It appears Roy Halladay will pitch on regular rest on Saturday, with Hamels taking the mound again Sunday against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
Hamels struck the 19-year-old outfielder in the small of the back with a 93-mph fastball in the first inning of Philadelphia's 9-3 victory. Harper scored the first run of the game by stealing home, and Hamels spoke openly about his intentions afterwards.
"I was trying to hit him," Hamels said. "I'm not going to deny it. I'm not trying to injure the guy. They're probably not going to like me for it, but I'm not going to say I wasn't trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That's the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want."
On Monday morning, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo expressed outrage at Hamels' act, telling the Washington Post that the incident was "classless" and "gutless," among other strong adjectives, and calling for the suspension.
"Cole Hamels says he's old school?" Rizzo said to the newspaper. "He's the polar opposite of old school. He's fake tough. He thinks he's going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who's eight games into the big leagues? He doesn't know who he's dealing with.
"This goes beyond rivalry and all that stuff. This points to, you take the youngest guy in baseball. He's never done a thing. And then Hamels patted himself on the back [for hitting him]. Harper's old school. Hitting him on the back, that ain't old school. That's [expletive]."
Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels with a pitch later in the game and denied doing it intentionally, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel didn't seem to buy that, either. Manuel reacted to Hamels' comments in an interview with a radio station on Monday.
"I wish [Hamels had] been a little bit more, what do you call it, not so honest, or dishonest, or discreet, that might be the right word," Manuel said on Monday on 94.1/610 WIP.
"What I saw was the next time Hamels came up to bat, they definitely retaliated, he got hit on the calf and he could have got hurt. If the guy would have hit him hard on the bone part of his leg, that could have hurt. ... I like to think it was dropped right there and the rest of it will be done baseball-wise."