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Nats GM on Bryce Harper: ‘Not a lot he could have done differently’ in fight

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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo almost exactly echoed manager Matt Williams when he indicated there wasn’t much Bryce Harper could have done differently regarding his dugout skirmish with Jonathan Papelbon. In fact, Rizzo, who pointed out the brouhaha wasn’t “the first dugout fight that I’ve ever been involved in,” seemed to entirely lay the blame for the incident at the closer’s feet.

“Not a lot he could have done differently,” Rizzo said on D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan, as transcribed by D.C. Sports Bog. “I put myself in both men’s shoes in that incident, and I would have done exactly what Harp would have done, and probably would have paid the consequences as Harp did. Certainly Pap was the egregious part of the altercation. I think that the punishments given out certainly show that we felt that Papelbon was in the wrong for grabbing and choking Harp, and I think the only thing Harp could have done was walk past him and walk to the other end of the dugout.”

Rizzo went on to say that for Harper to go that route wasn’t likely, as “he’s not built that way.”

In speaking to how Papelbon was hit with a four-game suspension, effectively ending his season, and Harper was benched in Monday’s game — Rizzo said the discipline was “what was best for the team.”

Papelbon’s future with the Nationals — despite the team being on the hook for $11 million next season — couldn’t be murkier, but Rizzo indicated the final decision hasn’t been reached.

“Well, we’re going to weigh are we a better team with him or without him,” Rizzo said. “Is his presence in the clubhouse going to add or detract to the ballclub? …. How does he get along with Harp, how does he get along with the rest of his teammates? That all goes into the Papelbon decision.”

The entire Nationals organization seems to be in complete disarray. Entering the season riding high on World Series aspirations, the team completely unraveled, leaving many to wonder who to blame for the mess. Taylor Swift, maybe?