Nationals OF Bryce Harper suspended 1 game for behavior after ejection

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bryce Harper was suspended one game and fined Wednesday by Major League Baseball for his behavior following an ejection this week.

Harper decided to appeal the penalty and remains eligible to play until the process is finished, the commissioner's office said. Last year's NL MVP was in the Washington Nationals' lineup Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers, batting third and playing right field.

Washington's clubhouse was closed to reporters by the time Harper's suspension was announced.

During the bottom of the ninth inning of Washington's 5-4 victory over Detroit on Monday night, Harper was in the dugout when he was ejected by plate umpire Brian Knight after Nationals batter Danny Espinosa was called out on strikes.

When someone is tossed from a game in the majors, he is required to leave the dugout.

Moments after the ejection, pinch-hitter Clint Robinson connected for a game-winning home run, and Harper ran onto the field with his teammates to celebrate. Harper pointed toward Knight and cursed at the umpire.

After the game, Harper described what he said as "a couple choice words."

When a reporter mentioned the possibility of getting fined, Harper said: "If I do, I do. I'll pay it. Maybe (Knight will) get fined, too. So we'll see."

Nationals manager Dusty Baker acknowledged Tuesday that he thought Harper "deserves something — a fine or something — to me," because "probably what he did and said was wrong."

Baker also said: "Who's not going to come out on the field to celebrate a game-winning home run? I mean, what do you think we are — like, robots that don't have feelings?"

Harper's punishment was handed down by Joe Garagiola Jr., Senior Vice President of Standards and On-Field Operations for MLB. The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

Harper entered Wednesday batting .252 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. He had five hits in his last 39 at-bats.

The slugger had walked 17 times in his last six games, contributing to a .433 on-base percentage. He drew six walks — three intentional — in a 4-3, 13-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

"They're actually doing Bryce a favor. The more pitches he sees, the more he can zero in on what's good and what's not," Baker said Wednesday. "It's tough to take now, but I think this could possibly help him in the long run."

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