One of the more infamous moments from Jonathan Papelbon’s career came in 2015 as a member of the Washington Nationals when he and Bryce Harper got into a fight in the dugout during a game.
As Bryce Harper jogged back to the dugout after not running out a pop fly, the two exchanged some words before going at it, with Papelbon grabbing Harper around the neck and choking him.
The two are friendly and on good terms now, but Papelbon — who is on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year despite not being officially retired from the game — recalled the incident on WEEI’s “Live BP Show” (17:00 mark above) with Rob Bradford.
“Just a deal where I threw at (Manny) Machado. [Harper] went to the media without talking to me, saying it was stupid because now he’s going to get drilled,” Papelbon said. “… I met him in the locker ‘I’m protecting you. The starter didn’t do it. I’m protecting you.’ Anyway, and I said that, I said ‘I don’t care what you do when everybody else does. But when I’m out there this stuff about halfway going to first… it ain’t happening. Do what you wanna do with everybody else, there’s the line.’
“Of course, the next day he crossed it. I started yelling. He said ‘f—k you, you f—king p----y. Let’s go.’ I don’t know what to do after that.”
While the two have managed to put the incident behind them, Papelbon said it did not happen right away.
“The whole clubhouse was in there breaking bread afterwards. He was nowhere to be seen,” he recalled. “I think he was still kinda pissed off.”
Harper was not the only teammate Papelbon has gotten into it with, either. He added that he and Jason Varitek used to scuffle, although it sounded a lot more like messing around than any real animosity.
“Jason Varitek used to whip my ass in the training room every day,” he said. “He’d say something smart and put me in a headlock. ‘I’d say gotta play tonight please let go.’”