The incident occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning after Harper flied out. He and Papelbon exchanged words as Harper walked back to the dugout and Papelbon lunged at Harper’s throat.
Harper was replaced on defense to start the ninth inning while Papelbon, who entered the game with two outs in the eighth, came back out to pitch the ninth and gave up a go-ahead two-run homer to Andres Blanco.
Papelbon appeared to be upset with Harper over his perceived lack of hustle on the play.
Papelbon yells "Run that out" at Harper before fight. What? Day after elimination many everyday players just take day off. Harper played.— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) September 27, 2015
Harper did make it to 1st base. But Papelbon bad mouths him all the way back to dugout, keeps on. Harper fed up: "Lets $#%% go." They do.— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) September 27, 2015
After the game, manager Matt Williams addressed both the incident and his decision to have Papelbon pitch in the ninth.
Matt Williams: "Certainly there's a lot of testosterone flowing...This was a family issue, and we'll deal with it that way."— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 27, 2015
Reporter:Why did you send Papelbon out again?— Brian Naylor (@brinaylor) September 27, 2015
Matt:He's our closer
Reporter:He put his hands on Harpers neck
Matt:He's our closer
The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday when the Mets clinched the NL East.
Papelbon, who is known for his volatile personality, was acquired in a deadline trade with the Phillies. Speaking with reporters after the game, Papelbon said “It’s happened for hundreds of years in this game.”
Papelbon: "I'm in the wrong there." Wouldn't specify what exactly took issue with, but said its important to "play the game the right way."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 27, 2015
Harper said he had put the incident behind him.
Harper. "He apologized. So whatever. I really don't care...like brothers fighting. That's what happens."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 27, 2015
On Saturday, Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post reported that “several players” were unhappy with how Williams has managed the clubhouse.
“It’s a terrible environment,” one player told Svrluga. “And the amazing part is everybody feels that way.”
- Dan Gartland