Reds' Tommy Pham challenges Padres 1B Luke Voit to unarmed combat after 'dirty' slide

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Usually, a dirty play on a baseball diamond means a hostile confrontation on said baseball diamond.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham has other ideas.

Tensions ran high in the first inning of Tuesday's game between the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres when Padres first baseman Luke Voit barreled into Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. Voit was trying to score from first base on a double by Jurickson Profar, but the 255-pounder was beaten to home by a throw from Pham.

On the resulting play at the plate, Voit's upper body slammed into Stephenson's head, leveling the catcher but still getting called out because the contact did not dislodge the ball.

Despite Voit being called out, Reds manager David Bell challenged the play on the grounds that Voit had violated the rules by initiating contact with the catcher, likely in the hope that Voit would be ejected. The umpires determined the slide to be legal, denying the challenge.

That was little consolation for Stephenson, who exited the game and was quickly placed on the 7-day injured list with the a concussion. Not only did the Reds have to replace their catcher, they also had to burn their designated hitter in the first inning because backup catcher Aramis Garcia had been in the spot.

Bell would concede after the game that he "didn't have a problem with the slide," per MLB.com, basically ascribing the challenge to wanting to do something for the sake of doing something. Pham, however, had some harsher words for Voit and a suggestion they meet up elsewhere to physically sort things out.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bobby Nightengale:

"The way his hands hit him, it was dirty as (expletive)," Pham said. "I don't like it at all. The way his hands hit him in the face, it was dirty. If Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well. Anything, Muay Thai, whatever. I've got a (gym) owner here who will let me use his facility. So, (expletive) 'em."

Pham is a former teammate of Voit's on the St. Louis Cardinals and is in his first season with the Reds after a two-year tenure with the Padres.

Meanwhile, Voit claimed he wasn't trying to hurt Stephenson on the play:

“I wasn't trying to take him out or anything,” Voit said. “I guess my elbow just kind of smoked his head a little bit. Hope he's all right. No hard feelings.

“It's baseball. I wasn't trying to make it dirty or anything. I'm just trying to make a play obviously. Unfortunately I was out. So I ended up getting the short end of the stick on it, too.”

Stephenson wasn't available to the media after the game because of the concussion, but he did address the play on social media:

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson, left, tags out San Diego Padres' Luke Voit, trying to score from first off a double by Jurickson Profar during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Was Luke Voit's slide into Tyler Stephenson clean or dirty? (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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