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Harper believes he and Papelbon can move on from fight

Sep 28, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Bryce Harper was out of the Nationals lineup on Monday as punishment for his involvement in a fight with Jonathan Papelbon in the home dugout at Nats Park the day before. It is generally team policy that players who do not appear in games do not talk after them. But there Harper was, waiting at his locker to comment further on the situation and why he was dealt a penalty for his actions.

Harper understood the team’s decision and explained why he thinks it was made.

“I think just being part of the incident, being part of what went on. I don’t want to stay out of the lineup, but something happened and it’s part of the game,” he said. “You don’t expect to fight your teammates or anything like that. It’s definitely something that as the Nationals, we don’t pride ourselves on that. We’re a family in here.”

Harper was asked what he thought he should have done in hindsight. It was a tough question for him to answer, given how quickly it all transpired.

“I don’t know. It something that if you’re in a bar or if you’re in the dugout or if you’re anywhere, if somebody grabs your neck, your first reaction is to do what I did, I guess. Like I said, it’s something that happens in the game. It happens in life. There’s nothing I can do about it now. It’s just what happened,” he said.

Harper hopes to speak with Papelbon at some point soon about the whole situation. Papelbon is under contract for 2016 and, as of now, will be Harper’s teammate again come February when players report for spring training.

“I’d like to talk to him in person if that’s possible but I think we’ll worry about that when that comes up,” Harper said.

Harper believes he and Papelbon can get past their differences and repair their relationship as teammates.

“It’s something we need to do because we want to win. That’s his main goal every single day. That’s my main goal every single day,” he said. “We need the support of every single guy in this clubhouse. We need support of teammates and that’s what we need. If Pap’s gonna help us win a World Series next year, that’s what I need.”

Harper continued and even acknowledged the support Papelbon may need from him.

“As much as I need him, he needs me,” he said.

Harper’s 2015 season playing in Washington is over, as the team finishes their schedule on the road, and it did not end as he had hoped. He was supposed to get a final ovation from the crowd on Sunday and that opportunity never arose. Then, he was out of the lineup on Monday, the team’s final home game, for disciplinary purposes.

Harper wasn’t concerned about that fact, knowing he will be back next season, no matter how many changes occur this winter around him on the Nationals’ roster.

“I think I got three more years at Nats Park, so I think I’m okay. Being able to play in front of these fans has been a lot of fun for me. I have three more years to play here and hopefully a lot longer. It’s somewhere I love to play and it’s somewhere I love to be.”

  1. janebeard - Sep 28, 2015 at 9:40 PM

    “I think I have three more years at Nats Park…” Yep. He’s already a Yankee in his heart. I hope the management can turn things around so that we get to keep him in his prime.

    I hope these guys never see each other again, on or off the field. Because that wold mean Pap is out of baseball. I’d settle for off our team. But who would take this guy?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 28, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      Yeah, that sounded kind of oddly final, didn’t it?

      • dryw4nats - Sep 28, 2015 at 9:48 PM

        Funny, I didn’t read it that way. I heard more that this is a momentary blip in three more years of this contract. I mean, he didn’t actually have to add “and hopefully a lot longer…”

  2. Karl Kolchak - Sep 28, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    “I think I got three more years at Nats Park, so I think I’m okay.”

    Has any player ever had a less enjoyable MVP season than Bryce has had this year?

    Nice going Rizzo and Williams. Your arrogance towards the best talent the Nats will likely ever see has made it all but inevitable that the team is going to lose that talent before his 27th birthday.

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      Oh, I hope you’re wrong Karl. I know that may not work out, but I sure hope we can keep Bryce for his entire career.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        Me too, Sonny. And if canning both Williams and Rizzo is part of what of takes to ultimately keep Bryce in DC, I’m all for that as well.

  3. NatsNut - Sep 28, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    Good writing from Dirk Hayhurst, former baseball player and author;

    https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/bryce-harper-jonathan-papelbon-and-the-problem-with-unwritten-rules

    Also, funny quote from this piece:

    https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-slapstick-slap-fight-that-sums-up-the-2015-washington-nationals

    “The person most likely to suffer the consequences of all this is the manager, the man who either saw Papelbon choke the 22-year-old face of the franchise and thought, ‘Sending that guy out to pitch now is a good idea!’ or didn’t see it happen and wondered ‘What’s everyone doing in the corner of the dugout? Is there cake?'”

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:01 PM

      Excellent, NatsNut.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:04 PM

      Great articles. If this incident sparks enough fan outrage to bury that “unwritten rules” garbage once and for all (and that is what is is, utter and complete garbage), at least a tiny bit of good will have come out of it.

      • Section 222 - Sep 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM

        I’m so with you on the unwritten rules KK.

    • Section 222 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:12 PM

      Love Dirk Hayhurst. He’s right on the money. As was Kilgore in the Post. The macho culture of baseball is a joke.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:52 AM

        After reading all of them – Hayhust is a funny guy. Kilgore did indeed hit it out of the park. Wish that the other Vice piece hadn’t mentioned the SS shutdown. That’s just kinda tired. 😉

      • Section 222 - Sep 29, 2015 at 12:41 PM

        Like “that’s a clown question bro'”, Harper’s “that’s just tired” is going to live on as a classic “dis” of someone’s behavior or statement. He has a knack for off the cuff, genuine reactions that capture the moment.

    • Doc - Sep 28, 2015 at 11:41 PM

      Thanks for the link, Natsnut! A little dose of real baseball from a real former ballplayer—who happens to be a very good writer.

    • slidell2 - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:32 AM

      If the man didn’t know, then he’s absolutely clueless.

  4. Section 222 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    I was relieved to hear “and hopefully a lot more” from Bryce. Just the written words on the page make the “three more years in DC” seem less of a downer.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:06 PM

      “…hopefully a lot more,” is Bryce being PC–or perhaps subtly signaling the Lerners that this incident is going to add millions onto the price tag for him to remain in DC after 2018.

      • Section 222 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:13 PM

        I’m only reading the words on the page, but I was relieved. Did you hear the interview? If not, I’m not sure either of us can draw conclusions.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        I didn’t hear the interview, but Harper citing the three years specifically is what ought to unnerve Nats fans. It shows that he is acutely aware of how much time is left until he is free to go wherever he likes. It was a shot across the bow at Nats’ management, and as a fan I very much hope that the message gets received.

      • voteforno6 - Sep 29, 2015 at 6:25 AM

        You’re reading too much into that.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:29 AM

      I was also relieved on reading that additional phrase.

  5. npb99 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    Already talk about the World Series?
    “If Pap’s gonna help us win a World Series next year, that’s what I need.”
    Has next season already been jinxed with WS talk? Following on the heels of the “World Series or bust” and “Where’s my ring”?

    • ArVAFan - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      Or is Harper just making nice, or acting all team-spirited, rather than make things worse in public? Would we all be happier if he said “I never want to be in a clubhouse again with that guy, or even in the same city?” That’s only making things worse if he does, indeed, have to play with him at some point. Maybe Harper has gotten some maturity–and not just at the plate.

      • npb99 - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:53 PM

        I agree – he has more maturity than he’s given credit for. I just hate the WS references by anyone associated with the Nats.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:28 AM

        He’s shown a lot of maturity over the course of this, imo. Papelbon (cough…psycho…), not so much.

  6. veejh - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    Holy Moly. After words like that, trading Harper after next season might not be such a bad move. That is not what I wanted to hear. Dayum.

  7. abqnatsfan - Sep 28, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    The state of the Nats has just been going downhill for two months. And today they managed to spiral further down after yesterday by mishandling the public statements by Rizzo and Williams. Williams continues to be the “who me? what happened?, well, let’s play one tomorrow, we’re here to win games” guy. And Rizzo just strikes me as tone deaf on actual high level management stuff – it always seemed odd to me the way he refers to his players as “inventory”, by name sometimes. They are individuals, and if you don’t treat them that way, and manage them and the organization that way, it can get out of control. As it seems to be.

    I respect the way Rizzo has built the club overall, but if he can’t figure out the rest of the job, it won’t get better. And that includes understanding that Williams just has to go after this year and his one tone approach, while Papelbon needs to go because the potential downside of keeping him, now is an unacceptable risk on many levels.

  8. jeffreycbullock - Sep 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    Nothing would happen – Papelbon knows who the star is and he wouldn’t dare say or do anything. He’d have to bite his lip all season long – he saw from how the team handled this.

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