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 (expletive) I don’t condone, so I had to address 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.
In the fantasy football league, Pederson was accused of cheating in a group text, he said, when he put a player on his injured reserve after the player was listed as out. Pederson said he pointed out Pham did the same thing with one of his players, running back Jeff Wilson.
During Friday’s batting practice, Pham walked up to Pederson, told him he didn’t forget about what happened in their fantasy league and slapped him across the face.
“We had too much money on the line,” Pham said. “You could look at it like there is a code. You’re (messing) with my money and you’re going to say some disrespectful (expletive), there is a code to this.”
Pham didn’t share the nature of Pederson’s text message.
“It wasn’t racist,” Pham said. “It was some (stuff) that you just don’t say. I told him in the text, right when he texted it, I’m not cool enough with you to be talking like this. He should’ve known right then and there.”
The fantasy football league featured baseball players from various teams, Pham said.
“It was this past year,” Pham said. “I was in second place when I dropped out of that league. There was a lot of money on that line. I’m a big dog in Vegas. I’m a high roller at many casinos. You can look at my credit line. We were playing big money. I don’t have to get into the details of how much, but I look at it like if you lost, you had to pay double. If you came in last place, you had to pay double. So, I looked at it like he was (messing) with my money along with the disrespect.”
Pham will lose $111,111 from the three-game suspension, plus he was fined an undisclosed amount from the league.
Knowing the likelihood of a suspension, why did Pham slap Pederson?
“From the text message he sent about my former team and how I felt like there was some flawed (stuff) going on in that league,” Pham said, “that’s why.”
Pham sat out of Friday’s series opener against the Giants, a 5-1 win, because he said he felt pressure from MLB. The Reds announced after the start of the game that Pham had agreed not to play pending MLB’s investigation of the altercation.
Pederson confirmed Giants manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Farhan Zaidi pressured the Reds to bench Pham. Michael Hill, MLB’s senior VP for on-field operations, announced Pham was suspended and fined for “inappropriate conduct.” Pham said he accepted the suspension without an appeal because “it sounds like if I appeal, it might only get worse.”
“I think anytime one individual strikes another individual, it’s serious,” Kapler told reporters Saturday, “and it’s just something we all know can’t happen in a workplace.”
Pham said the dispute with Pederson was over after he slapped him Friday. He will sit out the remainder of the series against the Giants, but the Reds will travel to San Francisco for a three-game series from June 24-26.
“Look, I’m in this game to play baseball,” Pham said. “If he had a problem, he should have addressed it right then and there. 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.”