Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon and outfielder Bryce Harper were in an altercation during the bottom of the eighth inning during Sunday’s loss to the Phillies. It involved Papelbon lunging at Harper and wrapping a hand around his throat.
Despite the incident, Papelbon took the hill in the top of the ninth inning in a 4-4 game. He proceeded to fork up five of the eight runs the Nationals would allow to the Phillies in the inning.
Williams seemed unfazed by the incident when he spoke to reporters and defended using Papelbon despite the serious incident. Williams has since clarified, saying he didn’t know about the severity of the issue. Via James Wagner of the Washington Post:
There’s still some unanswered questions here. Williams removed Harper from the game* in the top of the ninth inning, either because of the fight or because of an injury. He was willing to remove his MVP from the ninth inning of a tie game — a game he was managing as if it mattered — as punishment for his participation in the dust-up, or because he was shaken up from it. Reporters at the post-game press conference also described Papelbon as having “his hands on [Harper’s] throat” which didn’t seem to faze Williams at all. Did no one talk to Williams about the issue between the bottom of the eighth inning and the press conference?
Williams’ handling of this situation, much like his in-game decision-making, leaves a lot to be desired and has left many of us more confused than before.
* or Harper removed himself. At any rate, the point still stands.