Sports Outside the Beltway

Red Sox Closer Update

It appears that Jonathan Papelbon is focusing on being a starter this year, despite his dominating performance last season

“I told [Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein] the other day, ‘I guess I’m going to have to go out and win my first five in a row just to quiet everybody and let them know I’m in the rotation,’” said Papelbon. “Right now, my whole body, mind, everything is focused on going out and starting.” 

“This is a decision that Theo and I made at the end of last year so that Theo could have a plan going into Spring Training what kind of direction he wanted to take with the team,” said Papelbon. “I think that was just a decision we made early, and that was the route he wanted to go.”

The article goes on to talk about the switch from closer to starter

Health was the primary reason for the switch. Papelbon’s right shoulder broke down on Sept. 1, and after a thorough medical study, the Red Sox determined that he’d be better off with a starter’s workload.

“For me, it not only plays into what they drafted me as, which is a starter, but it allows me to go out there and give them everything I’ve got on one day and build my body up to go do it in another five days,” said Papelbon.

The 26-year-old Papelbon got a reality check late last season, and it is one that will probably help him through the rest of his career.

“For me, my livelihood is my arm,” said Papelbon. “I treat it like a little baby now.”

Asked if he would be surprised to end up back in the pen

“It wouldn’t surprise me a whole lot, but at the same time, we’ve got some good competition at that spot,” said Papelbon. “There’s no doubt it. The guys we have right now — as far as [Craig] Hansen, [Manny] Delcarmen and [Joel] Pineiro — the competition in the bullpen is going to be stiff. That’s only going to make us better.”

And, as far as Papelbon is concerned, both he and the Red Sox will be better with him taking the ball for 200 innings a season instead of 70.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. A little note, many of the recent champs (Cardinals-Wainright, White Sox-Jenks, Marlins-Urbina) did not have their opening day closers on the mound when they won it all. I guess this can be considered an optimistic perspective for a pessimistic situation.

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