Nationals’ Jonathan Papelbon is suspended four games for brawl with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is grabbed by teammate Jonathan Papelbon during the eighth inning against Philadelphia on Sunday.

(Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon will miss the remainder of the season after initiating a physical altercation with teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout Sunday during the Nationals’ 12-5 loss to Philadelphia.

The team announced Monday has suspended Papelbon four games without pay after the incident involving Harper, during which he grabbed the MVP candidate by the throat.

In addition, Papelbon accepted a three-game suspension for throwing at Baltimore’s Manny Machado on Sept. 23, meaning the closer will be out for the remainder of the season.

“The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a 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 took responsibility for the fight with Harper while speaking to reporters after the game.

“Sometimes in this game there’s a lot of testosterone and there’s a lot of intensity that spills over, and I think that happened today,” Papelbon said. “For me, I can’t allow that to happen in the middle of a game. You handle that after the games or allow the manager to handle that. In that light of it, I’m wrong.”

With the score tied in the bottom of the eighth inning, Papelbon was unhappy when Harper appeared to not run out a fly ball. The two exchanged words when Harper returned to the dugout, then Papelbon grabbed the outfielder by the throat and a shoving match ensued.

“I’ve talked to Bryce and told him how we feel and we’re on the same page now, which is good,” Papelbon said. “Squash this and [play] tomorrow’s game. You know, I grew up with brothers, he grew up with brothers. I view him as a brother of mine.”


The Nationals were eliminated from postseason contention the night before, but Harper is considered an MVP candidate.

“I mean, he apologized, so, whatever,” Harper said of the incident with Papelbon. “I really don’t care.” 

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