Nats stars brawl: Bryce Harper Jonathan Paplebon

Published: September 28, 2015

Nats stars brawl: Bryce Harper Jonathan Paplebon, A disappointing season for the Washington Nationals took an ugly turn on Sunday when closer Jonathan Papelbon attacked MVP candidate Bryce Harper in the dugout during the eighth inning of their game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Papelbon appeared to chide Harper for not running out a ball after he hit a pop fly to left field. Harper peeled off after the ball was caught and returned to the Nationals dugout, and Papelbon began yelling at him while Harper was several feet from the mouth of the dugout.

He moved toward the steps as Harper approached, and Harper appeared to tell Papelbon to quiet down.

It was then that Papelbon grabbed Harper by the neck with both hands as teammates interceded.

Harper was removed from the game before the top of the ninth inning, with Papelbon pitching in a 4-4 game on Fan Appreciation Day.

Papelbon promptly gave up a go-ahead two-run home run to Phillies second baseman Andres Blanco and Philadelphia went on to score eight runs in the top of the ninth inning.

Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper? Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper.

— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) September 27, 2015
Papelbon, who gave up five runs in the eventual 12-4 loss, was removed by manager Matt Williams after drilling former teammate Odubel Herrera in the arm. He was later seen chatting amiably with ace Max Scherzer in the dugout.

“I’m in the wrong there. I’ve got to leave it up to our manager,” Papelbon said after the game. “There’s a lot of competition. It’s a long season, it’s a grind and I think we’re going to handle that in house and stuff like that.

I talked to Bryce and told him how I feel. We’re on the same page now.”

“A lot of testosterone flowing among young men competing,” said Williams, whose job is in jeopardy. “This is a family issue and we’ll deal with it that way.”

As for why Papelbon pitched the ninth inning after the incident?

“It’s a tie game. He’s our closer,” Williams said.

Harper mostly avoided talk of the incident, but when asked of his chat with Papelbon – who said he and Harper “are good now” – Harper said:

“He apologized so, whatever. I don’t really care. It’s like brothers fighting. Hopefully, we go forward and do what I can for the next six games.

“You’re usually fighting the other team.”

The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday night, ensuring that the 2015 season will be remembered as a disappointing one. The club had World Series aspirations, and Harper himself asked, “Where’s my ring?” in spring training after the club signed Scherzer to a $210 million contract.

But injuries and poor play factored into the club’s disappointing performance, and the club ceded first place to the New York Mets for good on Aug. 3.


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