Bryce Harper says he's 'fortunate' hit by pitch wasn't much worse

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Julius Long
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Harper says he's 'fortunate' hit by pitch wasn't much worse originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

After taking an errant fastball to the face, Bryce Harper has certainly felt a great deal of pain, accompanied by a bit of anger and frustration.

But above all, he feels extremely fortunate after coming away relatively unscathed from the incident.

On Friday, he spoke to reporters via Zoom, and according to NBC Sports Philadelphia insider Jim Salisbury, his words and tone of voice reflected gratitude simply for the chance to be there in that moment, alive and well.

"I'm just very blessed and fortunate to be where I am right now," he said. "I can't really explain it to you, right? I mean, I don't think anybody can. It just happened and it hit me and I'm just very lucky to be sitting here talking to you guys right now."

The incident occurred on Wednesday night when a 97 mph fastball got away from St. Louis Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera, who had to remain on the mound due to the MLB's three-batter minimum rule which prevented the Cardinals from pulling Cabrera. He went on to hit Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius in the side during the next at-bat.

"I was kind of emotional, a little upset about the situation and then a little emotional just because I was thinking about my kids, thinking about my wife. I think baseball kind of goes to the side in that moment, so you start thinking about bigger things, you start thinking about your family, your kids and what if, right?"

Any notion of animosity between Harper and Cabrera was promptly put to bed when the two exchanged texts following the game. Harper also received a heartfelt text from Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. But the trauma, both physical and mental, will take more time to heal.

"I was definitely in a lot of pain," he said. "Didn't sleep well that night at all. You know, the pain and then just the replaying in my mind of the situation, thinking that a couple inches up, or a couple inches over to either side and we might be having a different conversation.

Harper, 28, spent the first six seasons of his Major League career in Washington before joining the Phillies in 2019. Wednesday's events prompted his former teammate, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, to speak out against teams trying to "hit lightning in a bottle" with pitchers that can throw 95-100 mph, but haven't demonstrated control yet.

Harper has not returned to play since leaving Wednesday's game under his own power. He continues to nurse a sore left wrist, but the bruising on his cheek is hardly visible, Salisbury reports.