Pham suspended 3 games for altercation with Joc

May 29th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Reds outfielder Tommy Pham has received a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for his inappropriate conduct prior to Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. Michael Hill, Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President for On-Field Operations, made the announcement.

The suspension of Pham is retroactive to Friday night’s contest, and the remaining two games will be served Saturday and Sunday as the Reds continue their series against the Giants at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. He will not appeal.

Pham was scratched from Cincinnati’s lineup shortly before first pitch on Friday, with a Reds spokesperson saying he agreed to sit out while MLB conducted its investigation.

Reds players were taking batting practice at Great American Ball Park when Pham and Joc Pederson met out in left field. Pederson said Pham confronted him and slapped him on the face. Both parties said the incident involved a player-led fantasy football league. Several players intervened in the situation, and both clubs’ dugouts and bullpens emptied.

“Unfortunate situation,” Pederson said following the Reds’ 5-1 win on Friday. “Kind of stemmed from a fantasy football league we both were in last year. I put a player on the injured reserve when they were listed as out and then added another player. And then there was a text message in the group [chat] saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench.

“Then I looked up the rules and sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says that when a player is ruled out, you’re allowed to put them on the IR. That’s all I was doing. It just so happened that he had a player, Jeff Wilson, who was out. He had him on the IR. I said, ‘You literally have the same thing on your team, on your bench.’ ... So it feels very similar to what I did. And that was basically all of it. There’s not much more to it.”

Pham, speaking for the first time since the incident, described what happened during media availability on Saturday afternoon.

“I said, ‘I didn't forget about that [stuff]’, walked up to him and slapped him,” he recalled.

Pham claimed that Pederson left out key details from when he spoke to the media the day prior.

“What [Pederson] forgot to tell you guys too, he said some disrespectful [stuff] in a text message, and I called him out on it.”

Pham claimed the comments were sent in a text to him about his former team, the San Diego Padres.

When asked for context of the comments, Pham said they were not racist, but “it was just some [stuff] you don't say.”

Pederson confirmed Saturday that he sent a GIF making fun of the Padres to the group text chain in September. The GIF featured three weightlifters meant to represent the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. The San Diego lifter collapsed under his own weight, a nod to the way the Padres faded down the stretch last year.  

“In the group chat, there was more than one Padre -- there were probably four or five,” Pederson said. “I’m kind of close with a couple of them. It was supposed to be a friendly thing. Just making fun of how they were playing bad. He did not like that, and responded, ‘Joc, I don’t know you well enough to make any jokes like this.’

“I wrote back, ‘It was meant to be all fun and games. No hard feelings. Sorry if you took it that way.’ And then about two weeks later, he ended up leaving the league, and there has been no communication since. It is true, I did send a GIF making fun of the Padres. If I hurt anyone’s feelings, I apologize for that."

The two didn’t communicate again until Pham slapped Pederson on Friday. Video of the incident showed Pham hitting Pederson with such force that he knocked the latter’s sunglasses off.

"I think anytime one individual strikes another individual, it’s serious,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “And it’s just something that we all know can’t happen in a workplace.

Reds manager David Bell said on Saturday that he wishes to keep all other details of the investigation private.

Pederson said Saturday he does not anticipate participating in another fantasy football league with Pham again.

“It’s over, as far as I’m concerned,” Pederson said Friday. “I don’t think I’ll speak to him. I don’t think he wants to speak to me, I would assume. I don’t know. That was, I think, the first time we ever spoke in person. It was a weird interaction and unfortunate. You show up here, and it was hard to lock back in. It was a tough day.

“We haven’t been playing great as a team and then we lose a game. We’re scuffling a little bit, so that just makes things worse. This is an added distraction. You want to eliminate those as much as possible, because this game is so hard. Like I said, we lost and it feels like what happened was unfortunate, but it was still a big distraction to other guys around here. We didn’t play a good game tonight, so if I had something to do with that for being a distraction, then that makes me feel really bad, because I’m here to help this team win, not to be a distraction.”