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Why Harper was punished, despite being victim in dugout fight

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Why Harper was punished, despite being victim in dugout fight

Nationals superstar Bryce Harper, the likely NL MVP when the 2015 season is over, took the brunt of an ugly altercation between he and closer Jonathan Papelbon, one in which Harper was grabbed by the throat and forced into the backwall of the team's dugout on live television.

He was physically assaulted, essentially, for all the world to see, and it was done by a teammate. Harper was the victim in the situation, that there is no doubt.

And after all of that was established, Harper was punished by the team for his involvement. Papelbon got the worst of it, a four-game suspension without pay from the Nats, but Harper also got hit. He was out of Monday's lineup against the Reds for playing a role in the fight.

Manager Matt Williams explained exactly why that decision was made in his pregame press conference.

"Well, I can tell you from my view of the incident, he said something to Jonathan. And he played a part in the incident. So that being said, we reflect that within the punishment to Jonathan and his aggression. And we also reflect that with Bryce being out of the lineup today," Williams said.

Harper was expected to be given a day off for one of the Nationals' remaining seven games. Which game he would take off had not been determined before Sunday's incident, Williams said.

"We had planned a day off in the next couple of days and we decided that today would be the day that he would be out of the lineup."

Williams, in fact, wanted to take Harper out of Sunday's game so the fans could acknowledge his historic season for a final time. That did not go as planned, obviously.

"Our original plan was to give him the same opportunity we gave [Ian Desmond] yesterday. But it happened and he wasn't going to go out for the ninth inning, anyway. My hope was for him to get a basehit and we could do the same thing," Williams said.

"It's disappointing in that regard, but he's provided everybody great moments this year. We're very proud of Bryce and the fact he's had such a great year."

Harper, really, is fortunate he didn't get seriously hurt in the fight. He was slammed into the dugout's wooden bench and wall. He was wearing a batting helmet, as he had just finished his fourth at-bat of the afternoon. If he wasn't wearing a helmet, who knows what could have happened to him, what type of injury he could have suffered.

Williams and the Nationals understand that, but felt it was important to implicate Harper as part of the confrontation that escalated to a point that no one ultimately intended it to.

"I don't know what he could have done differently, but he was involved in it," Williams said.

Harper spoke after Sunday's game about the fight, but declined to comment further when asked on Monday morning.

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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

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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