Tommy Pham was scratched from the Cincinnati Reds lineup before Friday’s game because of a pregame altercation with San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson.
During batting practice, Pham slapped Pederson across the face over a dispute stemming from their fantasy football league, Pederson said. The Reds’ bullpen cleared into left field, where Pham allegedly slapped Pederson, and Reds hitters ran from the batting cage to the outfield.
“There was no real argument,” Pederson told reporters. “He came up and said, ‘you remember from last year?’ I was like, ‘fantasy football?’ He was like, ‘yeah.’ Then yeah.”
The entire incident didn’t last longer than a couple of minutes and Reds manager David Bell remained in the outfield to chat with Pham after players returned to their usual pregame activities.
“MLB is investigating the incident that occurred before the game involving Mr. Pham,” the Reds announced. “Mr. Pham agreed to not play (Friday) pending the results of MLB’s investigation.”
Pham declined to discuss the incident publicly when he walked off the field after batting practice and he was not available following Friday’s game.
Pederson walked off the field after he was slapped. There were no punches thrown after the incident.
“There was a decent amount of people around and I didn’t get emotional – I don’t think violence is the answer, I guess you could say, so I left the situation,” Pederson said. “Some other players were out there when the benches cleared, but it was batting practice. There was nothing more to it. It was an unfortunate situation over a fantasy football league rule or what wasn’t a rule.”
In the fantasy football league, Pederson was accused of cheating in a group text, he said, when he put a player on his injured reserve after the player was listed as out.
“I looked up the rules and sent a screenshot of the rules of how it says that when a player is ruled out, you’re allowed to put him on the IR,” Pederson said. “That’s all I was doing. It just so happened (Pham) had a player, Jeff Wilson, who was out and he had him on the IR. I said you literally have the same thing on your bench.
“I guess he was in two leagues and in one of them he was on the IR and one of them he wasn’t, so maybe that was a confusion. But on the ESPN league we were in, he was listed as out, so I said it feels very similar to what I did. That was basically all of it. There’s not much more to it.”
Did Pederson know Pham was upset with him?
“We never had any more contact,” Pederson said. “The only time we texted was in the group text. It was over a year ago. It was a surprise.”
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Pederson, who played in Friday’s game, said he didn’t want to comment on whether Pham should receive a suspension. He confirmed Giants manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Farhan Zaidi wanted Pham to sit out Friday’s game.
“Gabe and Farhan did what they thought was best to best handle the situation,” Pederson said.
Pham and Pederson were division rivals in 2020 when Pham played for the San Diego Padres and Pederson played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pederson said he didn’t plan to chat with Pham if he saw him before Saturday’s game at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s over as far as my concern,” Pederson said. “I don’t think I’ll speak to him. I don’t think he wants to speak with me, I would assume, I don’t know. That was, I think, the first time we ever spoke in person, so it was a weird interaction and unfortunate. You show up here, it was hard to lock back in. It was a tough day.
“We lose the game. We’re scuffling a little bit. That just makes things worse and this is an added distraction. You want to eliminate those as much as possible because these games are hard. We lost. It feels like what happened was unfortunate, but it still was a big distraction to other guys around here and we didn’t play a good game tonight. If I had something to do with that by being a distraction, then that makes me feel really bad.”