WASHINGTON (AP) — The dugout skirmish between the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon elicited a common reaction around the majors Monday: Yes, these kinds of scraps take place. Not always in front of TV cameras, perhaps, but teammates do get into fights with each other.
“Everybody’s adrenaline and emotions are all over the place, and it happens,” said David Ortiz, who played with Papelbon on the Boston Red Sox.
“It’s not like they happen a lot, but they happen. We spend way too much time together, away from our family. You’ve got 25 different mentalities together at once, 25 different men in the same room,” Ortiz said before Boston’s game at the New York Yankees. “Even between big brother, little brother — fights happen. The most important thing is figure things out and go back to normal, which is what I’m pretty sure will happen over there.”
Papelbon, Washington’s closer, was suspended for four games by the Nationals on Monday, a day after he and Harper, the slugging outfielder considered a leading NL MVP contender, tangled during a game.
“My boy Papelbon is legit. He’s a trooper, a great teammate,” Ortiz said. “At some point, hopefully they figure things out, because Harper is a pretty good kid, too.”
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said fights involving a pair of guys on the same club “happens a little more than you think — maybe not in the dugout.”
Mariners reliever Joe Beimel, who used to play for the Nationals, said that when he first arrived in the majors with the Pirates in the early 2000s, “it seemed like there was a fight every week or so.”
But those, he recalled, would usually happen out of sight from spectators, maybe in a stadium tunnel leading from the dugout to the clubhouse.
“To do it in the dugout is not a very good idea,” Beimel said. “First of all, you know cameras are around. Fans are around.”
Harper is 22, Papelbon is 34 and some folks think that played a part in the confrontation.
“There’s a way to talk to young kids. They are part of the team. I’m not a big fan of making them feel like outcasts,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “When I came up the first time as a player, the veterans were tough on you, but you also knew they cared about you. Chris Speier yelled at me so much one time I nearly had tears in my eyes. Then I went up and hit a home run, and he was the first one there to congratulate me.”