Jonathan Papelbon has gone from one of the game’s most dominant closers to an unemployed reliever in the span of just a couple seasons. And many perceive that his combustible personality is a big reason why.
However, former Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa, who played with Papelbon for parts of the past two seasons in Washington, tells a much different tale.
“Jonathan Papelbon was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Espinosa told Loverro. “Great guy. I really liked Pap. He’d take care of anybody for that team. If we were going to get in a fight, he’d be the first one out there. He’s what you want in a teammate. He’s an old-school teammate. He came up in a different era than we did, or than I did, and I think Pap’s one of the last guys that was one of those kind of old-school ballplayers that came up in the era that he did. For me, it was a treat to play with Pap. I’ll never say a bad thing about him. I love him. I’d go to battle with him any day of the week.”
The perception that Papelbon isn’t such a great teammate, of course, is largely due to the fact that once he choked Bryce Harper in the Nationals’ dugout.
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Papelbon, 36, was released by the Nationals last August after they acquired closer Mark Melancon and remains unsigned just a few days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. In 37 appearances last season, he was 2-4 with a 4.37 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 19 saves in 22 opportunities. Papelbon ranks third among active pitchers with 368 career saves.