Pederson says Pham spat stems from fantasy football

May 28th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Major League Baseball is investigating a pregame altercation that occurred on Friday afternoon between the Reds’ Tommy Pham and the Giants’ Joc Pederson.

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

“MLB is investigating the incident that occurred before the game involving Mr. Pham,” said an MLB spokesperson. “Mr. Pham agreed to not play this evening, pending the results of MLB’s investigation.”

Reds players were taking batting practice at Great American Ball Park when Pham and Pederson met out in left field. Pederson said Pham confronted him and slapped him on the face over a dispute involving the fantasy football league that included both players as participants last year. Several players intervened in the situation, and both clubs’ dugouts and bullpens emptied.

“Unfortunate situation,” Pederson said following the Reds’ 5-1 win. “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.”

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said the club reported the incident to MLB and was still awaiting the results of the investigation. Reds manager David Bell declined to comment on the situation following the game. 

"I’m not going to speak about that,” Bell said. “I’m happy to talk about the game." 

Pederson said Friday marked the first time he’d interacted with Pham directly in person. He said he does not anticipate participating in another fantasy football league with Pham again.

“It’s over, as far as I’m concerned,” Pederson said. “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.”