By JEFF WALLNER
CINCINNATI (AP) — San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson said Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham slapped him prior to Friday’s series opener over a dispute about their fantasy football league.
While the Giants warmed up in the outfield, Pham confronted Pederson and smacked him in the face before the pair was separated.
Major League Baseball is investigating, and Pham agreed to be scratched from Cincinnati’s lineup shortly before first pitch pending results of the inquiry.
Pederson said after the Reds’ 5-1 victory that he was accused of cheating for placing a player on injured reserve and replacing him with a free agent in a fantasty football league. Pederson said the player he put on IR had been ruled out for that week, which made it a legal move. He said Pham had executed essentially the same maneuver with his own team.
“I sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says that if a player’s ruled out, you’re allowed to put him on the IR and that’s all I was doing,” Pederson. “He literally did the same thing. That was basically all of it.”
Pederson said he had no advance notice that Pham might confront him during the series in Cincinnati.
“There was no argument, he kind of came up and said, ‘You remember from last year?’ and I said, ‘Fantasy football?'” Pederson recalled.
The Giants outfielder said he didn’t retaliate after being slapped, and he has no plans to re-engage Pham while the team is in Cincinnati.
“Violence isn’t the answer. It’s over as far as I’m concerned,” Pederson said. “I won’t talk to him. I don’t think he wants to talk to me, I don’t know. It was a weird interaction.”
Pham threatened violence to settle an on-field score with San Diego’s Luke Voit in April, challenging the slugger to a fight after Voit injured Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson with a hard, ugly slide into home.
“If Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well,” Pham said. “Anything. Muay Thai, whatever. Like I said, I’ve got an owner here who will let me use his facility.”
The scuffle was witnessed by reporters and occurred before fans entered the ballpark.
Reds manager David Bell refused to comment on the incident, and Pham refused to speak on the record with reporters.
“Major League Baseball is investigating it, and until that’s complete, I’m probably not going to say much on it,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.
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