Jonathan Papelbon reflects on choking Bryce Harper: “I was in the wrong.”


Remember the time Jonathan Papelbon choked teammate and eventual National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Bryce Harper in the dugout during a late-September game against the Phillies? He was given a three-game suspension and later said he only regretted doing that in front of the television cameras. Harper called Papelbon after the season to patch things up.

It seemed like Papelbon would be on his way to his fourth team, but the Nationals instead kept him and traded Drew Storen to the Blue Jays this past offseason. The three-plus-month layoff has allowed Papelbon to reflect on the incident with Harper. As Chelsea Jane of the Washington Post reports, the closer said, “I was in the wrong.”

Papelbon’s full comment:

“Me and Bryce, we’re good. Like we’ve both said. I’ve apologized to him. I’ve apologized to my teammates. I want to apologize to the fans and the coaches and everyone included, and 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 have 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. So I’ve been in contact with Bryce and J-dub [Jayson Werth] and [Max] Scherzer and all these guys, and I think the main goal is to know that everybody here has each other’s back.”

It’s a shocking admission of fault from Papelbon, particularly given the comments he made about only regretting choking Harper in front of the cameras.

His non-pitching antics aside, the 35-year-old closer has continued to rank among the game’s best finishers. Last season, between the Phillies and Nationals, Papelbon saved 24 games in 26 chances and compiled a 2.13 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 12 walks in 63 1/3 innings.