Tommy Pham was dropped from the Cincinnati Reds lineup before Friday’s game over an altercation with San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson.
During batting practice, Pham punched Pederson in the face over an argument that stemmed from their fantasy football league, Pederson said. The Reds bullpen cleared into left field, where Pham allegedly hit Pederson, and the Reds batsmen ran from the batting cage to the outfield.
“There was no real argument,” Pederson told reporters. “He came up and said, ‘Do you remember last year?’ I thought, ‘Fantasy football?’ He said, “Yes.” Then yes.”
The entire incident lasted no more than a few minutes and Reds manager David Bell stayed in outfield to chat with Pham after the players returned to their usual pre-game activities.
“MLB is investigating the pre-game incident involving Mr. Pham,” the Reds announced. “Mr. Pham has agreed not to play (Friday) pending the results of MLB’s investigation.”
Pham declined to discuss the incident publicly as he left the field after batting practice and was unavailable after Friday’s game.
Pederson left the field after being hit. There were no beatings 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. That was all. It was an unfortunate situation because of 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 after putting a player on his injured reserve after the player was listed as eliminated.
“I looked up the rules and sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says if a player gets banned you’re allowed to put them in the IR,” Pederson said. “That’s all I did. It just so happened that (Pham) had a player, Jeff Wilson, who was out and he had him in IR. I said you literally have the same thing in your bank.
“I think he was in two leagues and in one of them he was in IR and one of them wasn’t so maybe that was a confusion. But in the ESPN league that we were in, he was listed as eliminated. I said it feels very similar to what I did. That was basically all. There’s not much more to it.
Did Pederson know Pham was mad at him?
“We never had more contact,” said Pederson. “The only time we texted was in the group message. It was over a year ago. It was a surprise.”
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Pederson, who played in Friday’s game, said he would not comment on whether Pham should receive a suspension. He confirmed that Giants manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Farhan Zaidi wanted Pham to sit out Friday’s game.
“Gabe and Farhan did what they felt was best to best deal with the situation,” Pederson said.
Pham and Pederson were divisional rivals in 2020 when Pham played for the San Diego Padres and Pederson played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pederson said he has no plans to chat with Pham if he sees him ahead of Saturday’s game at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s over for me,” Pederson said. “I don’t think I’ll speak to him. I don’t think he wants to talk to me, I would assume, I don’t know. That was I think the first time we’ve ever spoken in person, so it was an odd interaction and unfortunate. When you show up here, it’s been hard to lock you back in. It was a hard day.
“We’re losing the game. We fight a little. It only makes things worse and is an added distraction. You want to eliminate these as much as possible because these games are tough. We lost It’s a shame but it was still a big distraction for other guys here and we didn’t play well tonight. If I had anything to do with being a distraction then I feel really bad.