Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon earned a small amount of good will back when he recently took responsibility for last September’s altercation with teammate Bryce Harper. Perhaps the veteran closer, now 35 years old, finally turned over a new leaf. Maybe not.
In Thomas Boswell’s column for the Washington Post on Sunday, he notes that Papelbon walked around the Nationals’ complex in Viera, Florida on Saturday with an… interesting cut-off muscle t-shirt. It had arrows pointing to his biceps with the caption “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” The shirt is in bad taste on multiple levels, for obvious reasons. And it really just shows that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Papelbon is who he is, and the Nationals are hoping that still includes him being one of baseball’s most dominant closers.
Last season, in 39 2/3 innings with the Phillies and 23 2/3 with the Nationals, Papelbon got the save in 24 of 26 opportunities while compiling an aggregate 2.13 ERA and a 56/12 K/BB ratio. That marked his fifth consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA.