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Harper believes he and Papelbon can move on from fight


Harper believes he and Papelbon can move on from fight

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."

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .


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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.