Harper calms incendiary situation with 'empathetic' text


A potentially volatile situation between the Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday never erupted like it could have, considering what happened the night before.

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?

Phillies slugger Bryce Harper, hit in the face by a 97-mph fastball on Wednesday night, defused the situation when he sent a text message to the offending pitcher, Genesis Cabrera, before Thursday’s game.

Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt, in his postgame Zoom session with reporters, described Harper’s text as showing “empathy for the guy who hit him.”

Harper was in a forgiving mood because Cabrera did not hit him on purpose and, of course, because he somehow — miraculously — managed to avoid injury.

“Support that guy,” Shildt said of Harper. “That’s a standup guy.”

Cabrera, who had no idea where the ball was going Wednesday night, also plunked Didi Gregorius – with the very next pitch after hitting Harper.

Both Harper and Gregorius sat out Thursday’s game, a 4-3 loss in 10 innings. It does not appear as if either player will require time on the injured list, but it’s not clear when they will return to the lineup. The Phillies open a seven-game homestand on Friday.

“I think our doctors will probably evaluate Bryce when we get back,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He did some things today. And he felt OK. Didi loosened up as the day went on. So we feel better about him. But they'll both be evaluated when they get home (Friday).”

Harper checked out fine at the hospital after being plunked Wednesday. Any player who is hit in the head, by a pitch or in a collision, is checked for a concussion. Sometimes that process lasts a few days so it’s not certain whether Harper will play Friday night against the Mets.

The Phillies did respond to the two hit batsmen when Hector Neris plunked Nolan Arenado with a first-pitch fastball in the back with two outs in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game. Girardi said he did not know if Neris threw the pitch with intent, but it sure looked like it. If Neris did it intentionally, he likely did it on his own because the score was tied and the game was on the line.

Arenado dropped his bat and ran to first base without issue. In other words, he was a pro.

Shildt took the opportunity to vent to home plate umpire Brennan Miller about his strike zone and was ejected. After the game, Shildt expressed confidence that there was intent behind Neris' pitch, but he had no problem with that.

“That’s old-school baseball,” he said. “It was done as clean as possible. And we move on. The game polices itself.”

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