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.
After the game, manager Matt Williams addressed both the incident and his decision to have Papelbon pitch in the ninth.
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.”
Harper said he had put the incident behind him.
On Saturday, Barry Svrluga of The Washington Postreported 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