Washington Nationals News: Jonathan Papelbon Addresses Media In Viera


Today, Jonathan Papelbon met the media in Viera and apologized for his altercation with Bryce Harper from last season

On Day 2 of Washington Nationals spring training down in Viera, Florida, it was the moment everyone has been anticipating since the end of last season. What would Jonathan Papelbon say in his first comments of spring training? The Nats have kept him as the closer (for now) after they dealt Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this winter

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Today, he was apologetic for his altercation in the dugout with NL MVP Bryce Harper back on September 27 against the Phillies. Here were some of his comments, courtesy of Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:

The Nationals suspended Papelbon for the final four games of last season because of the incident, which was added on to the three game suspension that he received from Major League Baseball when he intentionally threw at Manny Machado in a game against the Orioles on September 23 at Nats Park. He has filed a grievance against the Nats for not paying him during his suspension, but he has yet to have his hearing.

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One of my other takeaways from Papelbon’s comments were that he was humble today after he reflected back on the situation. While he will have to earn the love of the fans back, he knows that he made a mistake and is trying to help the team win a championship in 2016:

“I’m not a perfect human being. I’m an imperfect person living in an imperfect world. I don’t claim to be (perfect). So for me, I realize that what I did was wrong. And the fans see that. And I see that. But my whole point is that good can come of this.” (h/t Mark Zuckerman, MASNSports.com)

At least, the situation has been addressed, including Dusty Baker having a conversation with Papelbon, which if any manager could get this situation turned around, it’s a players’ manager such as Baker. The Nats’ new manager talked about that conversation in his first spring press conference earlier today:

Even though fans might still be angry at Papelbon, the Nationals are going to need him to be a consistent shutdown closer if the team wants to accomplish its goals in this season.

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Last season, the closer went 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA and had seven saves (nine chances) in his 22 games with the Nats. Now that the situation has been addressed, Papelbon can move on and try to return to the form he had with Boston and Philadelphia, even as he heads into his age-35 season.