Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon will begin serving a seven-game suspension during Monday's contest against the San Diego Padres.
MLB Public Relations reported the news of Papelbon's punishment:
The Phillies fully support the decision of the Commissioner’s Office, which has exclusive jurisdiction for on-field player behavior. By Major League Baseball rules, the Phillies have no authority to make official judgments about activity which occurs on the field or to determine the appropriate penalty for misconduct. We apologize to our fans for the actions of our player yesterday.
Philadelphia fans booed Papelbon during a 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday. He was brought in to close out the game but yielded four runs in the top of the ninth, drawing the ire of those in attendance at Citizens Bank Park.
Frustrated by his play and the reaction it drew, Papelbon made an unfortunate gesture in response by grabbing his crotch. Second base umpire Joe West then ejected the closer for his conduct.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has more details:
USA Today's Jason Wolf documented Papelbon's explanation of the incident, along with his interaction and history with the man who tossed him:
[West] basically came over and said I that did an inappropriate gesture and I had no clue what he was talking about. That is when I got upset. I had no idea what he was talking about. I had no explanation. I was still obviously pretty heated from what had just transpired. Me and Joe we go way back. We don't see eye to eye a lot of times.
Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe weighed in after Papelbon denied any derogatory intent:
Papelbon has a 2.10 ERA and has converted 37 of his 41 save opportunities in 2014, so he isn't having a bad season by any means. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post provides some interesting insight into the situation:
With his contract guaranteed for 2015 and a vesting option for 2016, perhaps the Phillies may explore trade options for their All-Star reliever. This episode from Papelbon and the apparent friction between him and the organization could see him in another uniform to start next season.
There is no denying Papelbon's talent and steady success on the mound. In all but one of his seasons as a pro he's had his ERA under 3.00. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon's gesture impacts his value on the trade block. If he doesn't get a strong endorsement—public or private—from Philadelphia, it will be hard for the Phillies to sell him no matter how good he is.
At age 33, Papelbon should still have a few quality years left in him before he declines. A team on the precipice of contention could always use someone like him to slam the door in decisive games.