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."