SAN DIEGO – For two superstars who grew up playing with and against each other in Las Vegas, signed on with Boras Corp. and put together MVP seasons during their early 20s, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper couldn’t be more different.
Breaking news: Bryant has never come close to charging a mound, the way Harper responded to getting drilled by Hunter Strickland’s 98-mph fastball on Memorial Day, the bad blood lingering from a 2014 Nationals-Giants playoff series and spilling into an all-out brawl.
“No,” Bryant said with a laugh. “I try not to really put myself in a situation where I’m going to get hit on purpose. Obviously, the team aspect is involved where you’re getting hit. That’s a different story. But individually I try to keep myself out of it.
“I kind of realize where they’re going to pitch me. And if I get hit, I get hit. I can’t imagine. I don’t know what I’ve done. I put my head down and run.”
In many ways, the Cubs reflect Bryant’s steady personality and sense of purpose. But Harper also plays with maximum effort and understands his responsibilities as a face-of-the-franchise player. And Strickland still got his 2014 World Series ring after watching Harper drill two home runs off him during that first-round playoff series.
“I just don’t like seeing guys get hit on purpose,” Bryant said. “It’s just frustrating as a hitter, because what can we do? We’re just going to wear it and get hit?
“A baseball is a weapon. (Bryce’s) probably going to be worth a lot of money and anything can happen.”
Major League Baseball handed down the punishments on Tuesday, suspending a situational reliever with zero career saves for six games while banning an All-Star outfielder for four games.
“You could kind of see that boiling over,” Bryant said. “But that was three years ago. It’s a long time in between. A baseball is a weapon. Any time you’re throwing it at someone on purpose, I think there should be some harsher penalties. It doesn’t feel good getting hit by 98.”