After Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon choked out his teammate Bryce Harper in the team’s dugout during a game last September, it seemed certain that he wouldn’t be on the team in 2016. And yet, despite putting his hands around the Nationals’ best player, Papelbon’s still on the roster and part of the club’s plans. The fact that he’s owed $11 million this season might be why he didn’t go anywhere, but because of the circumstances, he did his best to repair the relationship.
Papelbon told anyone who would listen at spring training that he was “in the wrong” when he strangled Harper, according to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. After addressing the second-biggest choke involving the 2015 Nationals, Papelbon went back to being himself:
Loud and large, he was at the center of the room, picking the team’s music play list, including the country song “Shut Me Up.” Key lyrics: “I’m the siren you can’t unplug. . . . The only switch that I got is ‘on.’ . . . You can’t cover up the truth with duct tape.”
Tell us how you really feel.
Don’t worry, he will. Later, he walked the Nats’ complex in a cut-off muscle T-shirt with arrows pointing to big biceps covered in jagged tattoos. The shirt said: “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” Pap wanted to wear that shirt to the “apology press conference,” but he was talked out of it.
There he is. There’s the aggressive but harmless knob we know.
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