Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham was suspended by Major League Baseball for three games on Saturday after he slapped San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson over a dispute over their fantasy football league.
As the Giants warmed up in the outfield ahead of Friday’s series opener, Pham, 34, confronted Pederson and punched him in the face before the pair were separated.
Pham said on Saturday there was some “incomplete” fantasy league stuff, and Pederson also made “disrespectful” comments about Pham’s former team, the San Diego Padres.
“We had too much money on the line, so I’m looking at it like there’s a code,” Pham said. Pham also said that Pederson was “playing with my money”.
Pederson acknowledged to reporters on Saturday that “there was a lot of money at stake” and said Pham was telling the truth.
A candid Pederson even showed reporters the gif he sent to tease Padres players who were in the chat group about their on-court struggles over the past season. Pederson was with the Atlanta Braves at the time and Pham was playing for San Diego.
“In the group chat, there were also – there was more than one Padre, there were four or five, I’m pretty close to a few of them,” Pederson said. “It was supposed to be a friendly thing, just making fun of the fact that they were playing badly and just talking back and forth. And yes, [Pham] didn’t like it and he replied, ‘Joc, I don’t know you well enough to make jokes like this.’
Pederson read on his cell phone to reporters what he replied.
“It was supposed to be all fun and games. No strong emotions. Sorry if you took it that way. And then about two weeks later, after week 4 or 5, he ended up leaving the league and there has been no communication since,” Pederson said. “Like I said, it’s true that I sent a gif mocking the Padres and if I hurt anyone’s feelings, I apologize.
“Because they were a really good team. So it was kind of making fun of how they weren’t playing well to make the playoffs with a really talented team,” he explained. I mean, I was teammates with some of them and it was supposed to be lighthearted, and I get that everyone takes jokes differently. So like I said, I apologize for that, and I’m looking to get past that and show up tomorrow with no distractions and try to help this team win a football game.
Reds manager David Bell said he spoke to Pham about what happened but refused to share what he said.
Pederson said after Friday night’s game that he was accused of cheating for placing a player in place of an injured player in the fantasy football league. Pederson said the player was ruled out for this week, making it a legal move. He said Pham performed essentially the same maneuver with his own team.
“I sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says if a player is kicked out, you are allowed to put them on the [injured list] and that’s all I did,” Pederson. “He literally did the same thing. That was basically it.
Pederson said he was not told that Pham might face him during the series in Cincinnati.
“There was no controversy. He came and said, remember last year? and I said, Fantasy football? recalls Pederson.
“I just want to make sure we’re ready to play a game of baseball today,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said on Saturday ahead of his team’s 3-2 loss to the Reds. “Joc handled the situation very well. One can always speak of non-reactionary. He knew how to manage everything that happened.
The brawl was seen by reporters and happened before fans entered the stadium.