Flash back to late September 2015. The lowly Phillies are visiting the Nationals for an afternoon game. It’s tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning when outfielder Bryce Harper steps up to the plate to lead off the inning against reliever Dalier Hinojosa. With a 1-2 count, Harper skied a fastball to shallow left field. He did not appear to run hard out of the box.
When Harper returned to the dugout, teammate Jonathan Papelbon, who got the final out of the top half of the eighth, started barking at him. Papelbon was not happy that Harper wasn’t running hard out of the box. Words turned into shoving, and shoving turned into Papelbon choking Harper.
The Nationals went on to lose 12-5, in part because Papelbon gave up a tie-breaking two-run home run to Andres Blanco in the top of the ninth.
The two, though, have mended fences since then and there have been no further issues. Reliever Drew Storen, then a teammate of Harper and Papelbon’s and now a Red, was asked about the two when he appeared on MLB on TuneIn’s “The bullpen with David Aardsma” last month. Specifically, he was asked who would win a “legit fight” between Harper and Papelbon.
As Scott Allen of the Washington Post reports, Storen said, “I gotta take Pap. This is a shot in the dark because I don’t know either’s fighting ability, but the one thing about Pap, when I saw him in person in the clubhouse, as opposed to on the field, he’s a really big guy. I later found out that he got recruited to play tight end at Mississippi State along with playing baseball. He’s a very big human being, so just from that principle alone, I’m going to take the size. And he’s got the eyes, he’s got the look that he knows how to fight.”
Allen points out that Papelbon is listed at 6’5″ and 230 pounds while Harper is listed at 6’3″ and 215 pounds.
At the end of January, the Nationals signed relievers Joe Nathan and Matt Albers. Today the Nationals have released Joe Nathan and Matt Albers.
Nathan, 42, pitched in just ten games last year, totaling only six and a third innings, between the Giants and the Cubs. He missed the entire 2015 season except for one third of an inning on Opening Day. Albers pitched in 58 games for the White Sox last year, posting an unsightly 6.31 ERA He pitched wonderfully in 30 games in 2015 however.
This spring Nathan and Albers pitched in more games than any other Nats relievers. Twelve for Nathan, ten for Albers. And they pitched well, with Nathan giving up five earned runs and Albers none. Apparently, however, there just isn’t room on the roster for those two.
This could be the end of the line for Nathan, a 16-year veteran with 377 career saves.
The substance of the report is not shocking. Francisco Lindor is one of baseball’s brightest young stars and the Cleveland Indians would, no doubt, wish to lock him up for an extended period of time. The surprising part is the guy who reported that, yes, the Indians are working to get Lindor a seven-year extension.
That guy: six-year-old Brody Chernoff, son of Indians general manager Mike Chernoff. Brody was invited into the team’s broadcast booth during the ninth inning of their game against the Chicago White Sox. Indians announcer Tom Hamilton asked, no doubt jokingly, if his working on anything interesting. Brody:
“He’s trying to get, um, Lindor to play for seven more years,”
Again, not shocking. It would’ve been way worse if Brody had said “Dad’s working on a three-way deal that’ll send Naquin to an NL team in order to affect a three-way trade that’ll land us Verlander without having to deal directly with a divisional rival.” But I imagine Dad still would’ve preferred he not mention that.