Hunter Strickland

Watch Bryce Harper smash another homer off ex-Giant Hunter Strickland

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Watch Bryce Harper smash another homer off ex-Giant Hunter Strickland

Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland have plenty of history. On Tuesday night, they added another chapter, and it was more of the same.

You might recall that Harper took Strickland deep not once, but twice in the 2014 NLDS, when Harper was still with the Nationals and Strickland was still pitching in relief for the Giants.

You might also recall that years later, the two nemeses traded blows when Harper charged the mound after Strickland drilled him with a pitch.

Harper, obviously, now is with the Phillies. Strickland, ironically, now is with the Nationals. The two teams played a doubleheader Tuesday, and once again, there were some fireworks.

Harper hadn't played in the second game of the doubleheader until he was called upon to pinch-hit in the seventh inning. The opposing pitcher, naturally, was none other than Strickland.

You can guess what happened next.

Indeed, the one-sided rivalry became more one-sided.

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Safe to say, the Washington fans didn't enjoy that blast as much as the previous ones.

Ex-Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland puts past behind him with Nationals

Ex-Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland puts past behind him with Nationals

SAN FRANCISCO -- Under slightly different circumstances, there could have been plenty of drama surrounding the Giants' series against the Nationals. 

But Bryce Harper chose not to return to D.C. and instead will come in with the Phillies later this week, and Hunter Strickland was non-tendered by the Giants in the offseason and returned Monday to pitch for the Nationals, not against them. 

It's impossible to view that connection, made when the Mariners dealt Strickland on deadline day, without thinking of the Harper incident. But Strickland said there weren't any lingering issues when he arrived in a new clubhouse. 

"The past is the past. I don't think that plays any part in this," he said. "I'm honored to be in this position and to help contribute in any way I can."

After catching a bad break in Seattle, Strickland all of a sudden finds himself in a great spot. The 30-year-old right-hander opened the year as Seattle's closer but suffered a serious lat strain during his third appearance. He returned July 28 for one appearance and then was traded to the Nationals, for whom he will serve in a setup role. 

Strickland, who has a second baby on the way in a month, said it has been a hectic stretch. But he's happy to be back in the postseason race and said his first week with the Nationals has been one of his favorite stretches as a professional. 

The trade brought him back to San Francisco for the first time and Strickland entered to protect a three-run lead in the seventh inning Tuesday night. He gave up a run on Pablo Sandoval's double but mostly looked like the same guy, pumping 95-96 mph fastballs in his one inning of work. There was no real reaction from fans either way, but Strickland has been a popular guy before games. 

He met with the current Giants bullpen on Monday and has spent plenty of time before and after BP talking to friends and current Giants. On Wednesday morning, he ran over to left field to greet team physical therapist Tony Reale and outfielder Alex Dickerson. 

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Strickland said it was a little weird walking to the visiting side and admitted he thought of "the ups and downs" of his five years in San Francisco, but mostly he was just happy to see familiar faces. 

"It's great to be back," he said. "It's definitely a little different being on this side of things, but just to get to catch up with the guys and talk to them and see how they're doing is what it's all about. It's been good."

Hunter Strickland thanks Giants, fans in two lengthy Instagram posts

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Hunter Strickland thanks Giants, fans in two lengthy Instagram posts

Hunter Strickland's up-and-down six-year tenure in the Giants' organization came to an end this offseason.

On Nov. 30, 2018, the team non-tendered Strickland, making him a free agent. Now, Strickland has a new home, as he agreed to a deal with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.

On Friday, the 30-year-old Strickland penned a "thank you" note to the Giants and their fans. His note was so thorough that it took two Instagram posts for him to thank everyone.

View this post on Instagram

Part 1: If you’re not in the mood for a long message then you may want to just scroll on past this. But this is the absolute least I could do to express my gratitude for my time with the @sfgiants . And these words can’t even fully express that! My family and I will forever be grateful. I want to personally say thank you to the Giants organization, ownership, and front office staff for taking that chance on me and for helping me accomplish so many childhood dreams in such a short time frame. I want to thank the coaches and video/analytic guys throughout the minor leagues all the way up to the big leagues! Thank you for investing so much of your time and energy into us players to help us all accomplish what we are all there for in the first place. TO WIN. Thank you to the training staff, PT’s, strength coaches, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, mental skills coaches, and chaplains for going above and beyond to help us be at or get to the best shape physically, mentally, and spiritually we can be at. Thank you to our clubhouse crew, grounds crew, flight crew, maintenance crew, stadium staff, and security teams for working tirelessly to always provide us with the best facilities and far more than any human truly needs. Thank you to the photographers and media crews for being consistent and always capturing every moment. (Good or bad). Thank you for showing up to do your jobs day in and day out. 👈🏻Continued on next post.

A post shared by Hunter Strickland (@hunterstrickland60) on

View this post on Instagram

Part 2: Thank you to the @bayareajaf team and winners for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful organization off the field. Thank you to @ucsf Family housing for always having open doors and allowing my family and I an opportunity to come spend time with such wonderful kids. My heart will always be with them! Thank you to all of our fans/supporters! I realize I’ve probably caused some of you to skip a few heartbeats. (Or maybe more than a few) But regardless, thank you for always filling the seats and supporting our team through the ups and the downs. It would not be possible for us to provide for our families by playing this wonderful game if it wasn’t for all of you! Coming out and seeing the excitement on these kids’ faces and the stands full is something in itself! So again, Thank you! And last but not least, thank you to my teammates! These relationships and memories created together is something I will always cherish. No matter what this life throws at us, these are the things that will last forever! Coming to the ballpark every day and traveling the country together with other guys and families that share the same passion you do means more to me than any “worldly” item will ever. Thank you to those guys who always have your back, for those who listen we you need to talk, and more so for the ones that will call you out when you need it most. NOW, the good Lord has closed this chapter in our life and opened a new one! I truly could not be more honored and more excited to go join a new group of guys, families, and Organization. Proud to call the @mariners our new home and cannot wait to get this 2019 season underway!

A post shared by Hunter Strickland (@hunterstrickland60) on

Strickland appeared in 253 games with the Giants and posted a 2.91 ERA. In 2018, he was installed as the closer and converted a career-high 14 saves.

Good luck to Hunter and his family in Seattle.