Baseball brawl leads to bans

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Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper and San Francisco Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland were hit with suspensions on Tuesday for their role in a spectacular bench-clearing brawl during their Memorial Day game earlier this week.

Harper was suspended for four games for charging the mound after Strickland plunked him with a fastball to the ribs. 

Strickland was banned for six games after league chiefs deemed his pitch at Harper’s body during Monday’s game was intentional.

The fight, which saw both players connect with blows to the head, cleared the benches at AT&T Park.

Both players have been fined an undisclosed amount but have signalled their intention to appeal.

Monday’s flare-up was the first meeting between the two players since the 2014 playoffs, when Harper blasted Strickland for two consecutive home runs.

Harper later expressed incredulity that Strickland could still be nursing a grudge.

“It’s not even relevant anymore,” Harper said of his 2014 exploits. “They won the World Series that year. He’s got a ring on his finger. He shouldn’t be worried about what happened in the first round.”

Nationals manager Dusty Baker defended Harper for his fiery response to a plunking he believed was intentional.

“If anybody gets suspended, it should be the pitcher,” he said. “Our guy responded to getting hit. We don’t start anything but we don’t take anything either.”

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