Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams was asked after yesterday's game if he thought veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon would face any disciplinary action after his dugout altercation with teammate Bryce Harper during the eighth inning of the Nationals' loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Papelbon, apparently unhappy with Harper's effort running out a flyout to left field, challenged the 22-year-old NL MVP candidate and then physically confronted the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick when Harper barked back, grabbing him by the neck and pushing Harper back into the bench at the back of the dugout in a quick melee that was broken up by teammates.
"We haven't spoken about that yet," Williams told reporters in his post game press conference.
"We just got done with jerseys on the field," Williams said, referring to the Nationals' yearly "Jerseys Off Their Backs" giveaway with fans. "We'll speak about that as well."
The second-year skipper later clarified his comments on the altercation and his decision to send Papelbon back to the mound afterwards, explaining that when he spoke to the press after the game he hadn't yet seen video of the incident and fully grasped what had occurred at the opposite end of the dugout from where he was standing:
Matt Williams clarifies: he did not see video of Papelbon-Harper incident until after fan jersey giveaway & he spoke with reporters. (1/2)— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) September 28, 2015
MW was at other end of dugout. Had he known severity of fight, he said he would "absolutely not" have used Papelbon for 9th inning. (2/3)— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) September 28, 2015
Williams said behavior like that is not acceptable. "I’m livid about it." (3/3)— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) September 28, 2015
Papelbon was asked after the game if he believed he would be disciplined or suspended over the incident?
"No, I don't," he said. "We'll handle it all in-house, but that's something that's going to stay within the team and not you guys."
Things got interesting this afternoon, however, when Matt Williams' next opportunity to speak to the media was set to start and was delayed for close over an hour.
The first information to come out, via CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, was that Papelbon, who was in the process of appealing a three-game suspension for, in MLB's view, "intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles," last week in Washington, would drop the appeal and immediately begin serving the suspension:
papelbon dropped his challenge to the 3-game mlb for throwing at machado. he'll start serving that one immediately.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) September 28, 2015
That report was quickly confirmed by a number of writers:
As @JonHeymanCBS said, Jonathan Papelbon has indeed dropped his appeal & will serve his three-game suspension from MLB re: Machado incident.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) September 28, 2015
Source confirms @JonHeymanCBS report that Papelbon has dropped his appeal of three-game MLB suspension from Machado incident.Will serve now.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) September 28, 2015
Before Williams did finally speak to reporters, the Nationals announced that they suspended Papelbon for four games without pay, which, combined with his three-game suspension, effectively ends his season.
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo issued the following statement in a press release on the decision:
"The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable. 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."
The Washington Nationals have suspended RHP Jonathan Papelbon: pic.twitter.com/KYKHvllsaw— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 28, 2015
Williams is reportedly set to talk to reporters soon. More info when it is available...