Tommy Pham was suspended for three games, retroactive to Friday, after he slapped San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson during Friday’s batting practice.
“I slapped Joc,” Pham said. “He did some (swearing) that I don’t tolerate, so I had to fix it.”
The dispute stemmed from their fantasy football league last offseason and what Pham described as a “disrespectful” text message from Pederson about his former San Diego Padres teammates.
Pederson read the group chat text messages to reporters in San Francisco after Saturday’s game.
“I sent a GIF in group chat that made fun of the Padres,” Pederson said. “In the group chat there was more than one Padre, there was maybe four or five and I’m pretty close to a few of them. 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, he didn’t like it.
“He replied, ‘Joc, I don’t know you well enough to make jokes like this. I replied, “It was meant to be fun and playful. No hard feelings. Sorry if you took it that way.” Then about two weeks later, after the fourth or fifth week, he ended up leaving the league and there has been no communication since.”
The GIF that Pederson sent had three weightlifters with the team logos of the Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Padres above each of them. The weightlifter under the Padres logo was hit by the weight and fell.
“Because they were a really good team, it was a bit of a mockery of how they weren’t playing well to make the playoffs with a really talented team,” Pederson said. “I was teammates with some of them. It was supposed to be lighthearted. I understand everyone takes jokes differently, so I apologize for that. I’m looking to get past that and show up tomorrow with no distractions. ”
In fantasy football, Pederson said he was accused of cheating in a group text when he put a player on his injured reserve after the player was listed as an absentee. Pederson said he pointed out that Pham did the same with one of his players, running back Jeff Wilson.
During Friday’s batting practice, Pham approached Pederson, told him he hadn’t forgotten what had happened in their fantasy league, and slapped him in the face.
“We had too much money at stake,” Pham said. “You could look at it like there’s a code. You (play) with my money and you will say disrespectful words (swear words), there is a code for that.
Pham didn’t elaborate on Pederson’s text when speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s game, but he did note that he immediately told Pederson what he thought of it.
“It was (things) that you just don’t say,” Pham said. “I told him in the text, just as he sent it, I’m not cool enough with you to talk like that. He should have known right then and there.”
The fantasy football league featured MLB players from various teams, including Mike Moustakas, Pham said.
“That was last year,” Pham said. “I was in second place when I dropped out of this league. There was a lot of money on this line. I’m a big dog in Vegas. I’m a high roller in a lot of casinos. You can watch my line of credit. We were playing a lot of money. I don’t need to go into details of the amount, but I think if you lose you would have to pay double. If you came last, you had to pay double. So I looked at him like he (played) with my money with disrespect.
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Pham will lose $111,111 from the three-game suspension, plus he was fined an undisclosed amount by the league.
Knowing the likelihood of a suspension, why did Pham slap Pederson?
“From the text message he sent about my old team and how I felt there were flaws (stuff) in this league,” Pham said, “ that is why.”
Pham sat out Friday’s series opener against the Giants, a 5-1 win, because he said he felt pressure from MLB. The Reds announced after the game started that Pham had agreed not to play pending MLB’s investigation into the altercation.
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Pederson has confirmed that Giants manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Farhan Zaidi pressured the Reds to bench Pham. Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for field operations, announced that Pham had been suspended and fined for “improper conduct.” Pham said he accepted the suspension without appeal because “it looks like if I appeal it could only get worse”.
“I think any time an individual hits another individual, it’s serious,” Kapler told reporters on Saturday, “and it’s just something that we all know can’t happen in a workplace. .”
Pham said the dispute with Pederson was over after he slapped him on Friday. He will spend the rest of the series against the Giants, but the Reds will travel to San Francisco for a three-game series June 24-26.
“Look, I’m in this game to play baseball,” Pham said. “If he had a problem, he should have fixed it on the spot. There weren’t too many people in the outfield. It was me and (Albert) Almora for a good 20-30 seconds. If you want to do something, you should have done it.