The Washington Nationals are playing with fire this season by keeping Jonathan Papelbon, and they were reminded of the type of handful the veteran closer can be before he issued an apology last week.
Papelbon kicked off spring training by apologizing for choking teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout late last season. There’s a good chance the Nationals told him to do that. They also told Papelbon what not to wear, according to Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post:
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.
Boswell also notes that Papelbon was in charge of the music in the clubhouse at the time, and a country song conveniently entitled “Shut Me Up” was playing in the background while he issued the apology.
Those of you who have forgotten about Papelbon’s incident with Harper can watch the video here.
It’s pretty surprising that Washington decided to keep Papelbon around, though perhaps they feel old-school manager Dusty Baker can keep the peace in the clubhouse. As long as the Nats can keep Papelbon’s hands away from his teammates’ necks and closely monitor his wardrobe, things should go smoothly.