Should Jonathan Papelbon be let go from the team? Is it time for the Nationals to fire Matt Williams.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals announced on Monday that they have suspended closer Jonathan Papelbon for four games without pay as a result of the incident between him and Bryce Harper in the dugout during Sunday’s game.
Earlier, Papelbon dropped the appeal of his prior three-game suspension handed to him by Major League Baseball for hitting Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, meaning that he will miss the final seven games of the 2015 campaign.
“The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo in a written statement. “That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way.”
Papelbon chastised Harper as he came off the field in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday after Harper flew out to right field. After the two exchanged words, Papelbon lunged down the dugout steps at Harper, grabbing him by the throat and pushing him into the back wall.
Papelbon was left in the game to pitch the ninth inning while Harper went back to the clubhouse. After the game, Williams indicated that Papelbon remained in the game because that was his job, later backtracking on his comments, claiming he did not understand the severity of the altercation until seeing video after his postgame news conference.
“I think the punishment today fits,” said manager Williams. “Through ownership, Mike [Rizzo], myself, everybody involved, we decided that four games would be the length of it.”
Harper is not in the lineup for Monday’s final home game. While Williams said he planned to give Harper a day off in the near future, he attributed the move to Harper’s involvement in the altercation.
“He played a part. He played a part in it. That’s why he’s out of the lineup today.”