Nationals

Quick Links

Nats explain Papelbon suspension, Harper punishment for fight

usatsi_8786004.jpg

Nats explain Papelbon suspension, Harper punishment for fight

UPDATED: 3:32 p.m.

After meeting for hours behind closed doors in the clubhouse at Nationals Park on Monday, the Nats announced their punishment for Sunday's ugly incident that involved closer Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper, the favorite to win NL MVP, in the dugout.

Papelbon will not only drop his appeal of MLB's three-games suspension levied earlier in the week, he has been docked an additional four games without pay by the team. There are seven games left on the Nationals' schedule, so that means he is done for the year.

On top of that, Harper has been punished by being left out of Monday's lineup against the Reds. The Nationals believe he played a role in the incident by exchanging words with Papelbon before the altercation turned physical.

Williams took the podium at Nats Park over an hour after he was scheduled to and began his daily press conference with an apologetic statement:

"We suspended Jonathan Papelbon for four games without pay, reflecting how seriously we take the incident in the dugout yesterday," Williams began. "When I was able to view the footage of yesterday's incident, I was upset and appalled. I think the punishment we've announced today fits and reflects the feeling we have about the tolerance of issues such as this and the standards we hold all of our players in our organization, too."

The decision was made along with general manager Mike Rizzo and ownership. The team also consulted the league and the MLB players' association before releasing the news.

Rizzo issued a statement on the matter through a press release.

"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," he said.

Williams expressed regret for several aspects of the situation. For one, he wishes he had asked for more information from coaches and players soon after the incident. He put Papelbon back in the game after the fight and on Monday said he would not have done so if he knew more.

Williams also spoke for the Nationals franchise, which has been been put in a national spotlight for reasons they never hoped for.

"It's been a very difficult 24 hours for the organization. Incidents like that in the dugout is not the way we want to play our games," Williams said. "We'll do our best to move past this incident and go beyond that."

Williams said he wishes Papelbon had expressed his frustration with Harper, whom he thought did not hustle on a routine flyout to left field, in a different way.

"Generally, this happens between players within the confines of a private clubhouse. It doesn't happen out in the open. Generally, that's how we would prefer to do it," Williams explained.

The Nationals still have plenty of decisions to make. Papelbon is done for the year, but is under contract with the team for the 2016 season. There is also the question of Williams' future, as the team has vastly underachieved in a season that was expected to include a World Series parade.

The fight brought up deeper questions about whether it spoke to larger issues within the Nationals clubhouse, which is a direct reflection of Williams and his job performance. Williams addressed that notion.

"I respect all those guys in there. They play their fannies off. They go about it the right way. I would think that this is an isolated incident because we just don't have that. We don't have that dynamic as a team. That being said, it did happen and we have to address it. We have to fix it and we have to move forward. For me, it's an isolated incident. We'll do our best to put it behind us. It's been a difficult 24 hours for the organization as a whole. What we can do at this point is not let that define us as a team, as individuals, and go play," he said.

Quick Links

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

Quick Links

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE