WASHINGTON — Emotions are boiling over at Nationals Park a day after the Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of a 4-4 tie against the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper walked back to the dugout after flying out to left field for the Nationals’ first out.
Jonathan Papelbon, appearing to take issue with Harper not running all the way to first base, shouted at Harper from the edge of the dugout.
The two continued exchanging words as Harper entered the dugout until Papelbon, stepping down from the top step, lunged toward Harper and slammed him into the back of the dugout.
Harper was pulled from the melee by Ian Desmond and then sent to the showers.
Papelbon was sent back to the mound to pitch the top of the ninth.
“Certainly there’s a lot of testosterone flowing,” Matt Williams said after the game. “This is a family issue and we’ll deal with it that way. There was an altercation in the dugout and we’ll leave it at that.”
On sending Papelbon back into the game, Williams said, “At the time, it’s a tie game. He’s our closer.”
MASN’s Chris Johnson followed up: “It appeared that he put his hands on his throat.”
“He’s our closer,” Williams said. “That’s all I’m going to say on the matter. He’s our closer. In a tie game, he’s in the ballgame in the ninth inning.”
“First of all, I’d like to say I’m in the wrong there,” Papelbon said. “I’ve got to leave that up to our manager. There’s a lot of competition and it’s a long season. It’s a grind. I think we’re going to handle it in house. But I think, you know, I’ve talked to Bryce and told him how we feel. We’re on the same page now, which is good. Squashed this. Head to tomorrow’s game.”
“I grew up with brothers. He grew up with brothers,” he added. “I viewed him as a brother of mine. Sometimes in this game there’s a lot of testosterone. There’s a lot of intensity that spills over. I think that happened today and for me, I can’t allow that to happen in the middle of the game. You can handle that after the game or allow the manager to handle that, so in that light of it, I’m wrong.”
“He apologized so, you know, whatever,” Harper said. “I really don’t care. I mean these next six days, keep doing what I’m doing. It’s like brothers fighting.”
A reporter said, “You’ve fought with your brother before, but have you ever fought with a teammate?”
“Usually fighting the other team,” Harper said.
Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper? Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper. pic.twitter.com/T2qof97Ymh— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) September 27, 2015
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