Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals seem to have bestowed an extremely fitting nickname upon Jonathan Papelbon.
Werth was interviewed on the field after he delivered a walkoff two-run single to beat the Phillies on Sunday, and he made an apparent reference to Papelbon – using a very unique nickname.
“Well, I knew I was in trouble when I saw The Strangler coming at me,” Werth said when asked to talk about the walkoff celebration.
“Who’s The Strangler?” asked MASN’s Dan Kolko.
“You know, The D.C. Strangler,” Werth said, prompting Kolko to laugh and veer into a different line of questioning.
Werth, of course, was referring to this incident that happened at the end of 2015 involving Papelbon and Bryce Harper. The two had apparently settled their differences, and if the team can crack jokes like this in the clubhouse, it looks like they weren’t kidding. If there is any justice in the world, Papelbon will be known as the D.C. Strangler long after he has retired from baseball.
H/T Washington Post
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning the jersey Bryce Harper wore when he was choked by Jonathan Papelbon, it’s your lucky day.
Lelands, an online auction house, has obtained the jersey and is offering it up to the highest bidder. It’s signed by Harper himself and will be up for auction through June 17.
According to ESPN, bidding was closing in on $5,000 as of Saturday morning.
Papelbon quite famously choked out his MVP teammate as the 2015 season wound down, the enduring memory of a disappointing season in the nation’s capital. The two have since worked out their differences, which is probably a factor in why Harper was willing to sign it and go along with things.
And hey, while you’re at it, you can bid on this and start a collection of clothing worn by angry baseball personalities.
The Washington Nationals are playing with fire this season by keeping Jonathan Papelbon, and they were reminded of the type of handful the veteran closer can be before he issued an apology last week.
Papelbon kicked off spring training by apologizing for choking teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout late last season. There’s a good chance the Nationals told him to do that. They also told Papelbon what not to wear, according to Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post:
Later, he walked the Nats’ complex in a cut-off muscle T-shirt with arrows pointing to big biceps covered in jagged tattoos. The shirt said: “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” Pap wanted to wear that shirt to the “apology press conference,” but he was talked out of it.
Boswell also notes that Papelbon was in charge of the music in the clubhouse at the time, and a country song conveniently entitled “Shut Me Up” was playing in the background while he issued the apology.
Those of you who have forgotten about Papelbon’s incident with Harper can watch the video here.
It’s pretty surprising that Washington decided to keep Papelbon around, though perhaps they feel old-school manager Dusty Baker can keep the peace in the clubhouse. As long as the Nats can keep Papelbon’s hands away from his teammates’ necks and closely monitor his wardrobe, things should go smoothly.
H/T CSN Mid-Atlantic
- Jonathan Papelbon
In an admission that came several months later than it probably should have, Jonathan Papelbon conceded that choking Bryce Harper in the dugout wasn’t a great move on his part.
Papelbon spoke to the media on Friday for the first time since he was suspended by the Washington Nationals for choking Harper in the dugout during a late September game. In fairness to the Nationals closer, he said all the right things when confronted with the inevitable questions about the incident.
“I’ve apologized to him,” Papelbon said, via Mark Zuckerman of MASN. “I’ve apologized to my teammates. I want to apologize to the fans and the coaches and everyone included. I think that with what happened last year, I was in the wrong. Should have never went down that way, and I understand that. I had a lot of time this offseason to reflect on that. I’ve had three months to think about it. I’ve done a lot of reflecting, and I think sometimes in life, good things can come out of bad situations.”
Papelbon couldn’t quite explain why he did what he did.
“I wish I could take it back and go talk it out in a more peaceful way,” he said. “I don’t know, it just happened. Kind of like when you shake up a bottle and you open up the top, it explodes sometimes and you don’t know why. I don’t know why. That’s a tough question.”
Papelbon and Harper reportedly worked things out during the offseason. Papelbon was also the subject of trade rumors, but a number of factors made it near impossible for him to be moved, and the Nationals knew as much.
It appears that Jonathan Papelbon may have won the power struggle at the back of the Washington Nationals bullpen.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo hosted a conference call after trading Drew Storen to Toronto, and naturally, he was asked what the deal meant for Papelbon. Rizzo quickly went into a defense of his closer.
“We make baseball trades,” Rizzo told reporters Saturday, via CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Chase Hughes. “If there’s a baseball trade out there, then we’ll make it. We see Papelbon as being one of our late-inning relievers. He’s been very effective at it his entire career, including last year except for the last portion of the season. This guy is a quality reliever, quality closer. He’s been in the biggest stage that you can be in. He pitched the last out of a World Series game and has a World Series ring. He knows how to win. He brings a swagger to the bullpen and he’s a guy that we’re going to rely on to pitch late and leverage innings.”
There’s definitely an underlying factor in Rizzo’s comments, though. Papelbon has been the subject of trade rumors, and he’s not going to publicly say anything to damage the value of his asset.
Trading Papelbon would be no easy task, though. He’s owed $11 million in 2016 and has 17 teams on his no-trade list. Not only that, but he’s pretty much wrecked his reputation after choking out Bryce Harper in the dugout at the end of last season. The two have reportedly smoothed things out, but the reputation as a combustible figure isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither is the fact that he’s filed a grievance against his current team. Between all that and the dearth of available relief arms at this stage of the offseason, Rizzo and the Nationals may have no choice but to buy what they’re selling and put Papelbon at the back of the bullpen again, for better or for worse.
If you thought Jonathan Papelbon’s drama with the Washington Nationals ended when the regular season commenced, you were wrong.
According to a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Papelbon filed a grievance with the Nats over them withholding his pay during his four-game suspension.
The Nationals suspended Papelbon four games for his fight with teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout in late September (video here). Papelbon went after Harper during the fight and even put his hand on the MVP’s throat.
Manager Matt Williams was so oblivious to what happened that he actually let Papelbon continue pitching in the game. It wasn’t until afterwards that the Nats realized Papelbon’s actions necessitated some serious discipline.
Papelbon made $13 million last season, though most of that amount was paid by his previous team, the Phillies, who traded the closer to the Nats in July. Papelbon is owed $13 million next season as well.
- Jonathan Papelbon
A microcosm for the Washington Nationals’ season and Jonathan Papelbon’s career occurred in late September when the fiery closer went after teammate Bryce Harper and choked the youngster (video here). Somehow Papelbon amazingly was allowed to continue pitching in the game, and somehow the Nationals have kept him on their roster. Why the Nats have kept Papelbon around is truly a mystery.
The Nats’ front office incompetence aside, Harper is trying to work out his relationship with Papelbon. To that end The Washington Post reports that he reached out to Pap with a phone call.
“Papelbon and Harper are fine together,” one person inside the Nationals told The Post. “Harp just wants to win. All he cares about is that we have a 45-save relief pitcher who’s going to help us.”
Harper may say the right things and may be acting like a leader by reaching out to Pap, but that’s probably not the best environment. Having a veteran around who will keep the young player accountable is a good thing, but it’s not if that player is also going to choke him. Once again, I can’t believe the Nats have plans to keep Papelbon around long term.