Updated, 2:30 p.m.
The day after Jonathan Papelbon grabbed Bryce Harper by the throat in the dugout in an eighth-inning altercation between the players, the Nationals suspended Papelbon for four games without pay.
“The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said ina written statement. “That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way.”
Harper will not play on Monday because of his role in the altercation, according to Manager Matt Williams. Harper was scheduled for a day off this week but Williams said he will not play Monday. “He said something to Papelbon and he played a part in the incident,” Williams said.
Additionally, Papelbon withdrew his appeal of Major League Baseball’s three-game suspension for throwing at Orioles third-baseman Manny Machado. The combination of the two suspensions will bench the closer for the remainder of the 2015 season. He is not expected to be around the team the rest of the season.
Harper flied out to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday, jogged to first and touched the base. As he walked back to the dugout, Papelbon said “run it out” to Harper. Papelbon kept talking and Harper responded, including saying “let’s [expletive] go.” The altercation got heated and Papelbon reached for Harper’s neck, the two wrestled before they were separated by teammates.
Harper left the game and didn’t return in the top of the ninth. Papelbon, however, for reasons that are still puzzling was allowed to pitch the top of the ninth and was charged with five runs, only two earned.
Since the controversial closer was acquired before the July 31 trade deadline, he has a 3.04 ERA in 22 games. He has blown two saves and lost two games in the past three weeks.