Thursday, May 18, 2006

as long as schill's okay with it

A small Boston Globe piece:

Jonathan Papelbon began last night leading the major leagues in saves with 14, in an equal number of chances. Since allowing his only run, and absorbing his only loss, May 3 against Toronto, he had pitched five times and allowed one hit. He has appeared in 53 percent of the Red Sox' games (20 of 38), and with that regular work has come a conclusion.

"I could never start a game again in my life," Papelbon said yesterday afternoon, "and I'd be happy."

Papelbon was a closer in college (Mississippi State) but started 48 of his 58 minor league games and fell in love with that role. He began this year saying his goal was to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues, even if he began the season in the bullpen. That desire?

"It's gone," Papelbon said yesterday. "Starting does not even enter my brain anymore. I get a lot of satisfaction out of closing. I feel like more of an everyday player. Hopefully, I'll be able to close for a long time.

"I'd never closed in the big leagues before. All of a sudden it's like a newfound glory. It's like, wow. I found out I like it. It's very satisfying."

Papelbon's role beyond this season probably hinges upon a number of factors, including team needs and the development of Craig Hansen and Jon Lester. Curt Schilling, meanwhile, lobbied early this spring for Papelbon to be in the rotation, viewing him as far more valuable pitching 200-plus innings than 60-80 innings out of the bullpen.

How does Schilling feel now? "Whatever he feels most comfortable doing, I guess," Schilling said. "Circumstances are right now that he's perfect for what we need. If he stays there the rest of his career, I think he'll be phenomenal. But if he doesn't, I think he'll be phenomenal anyway.

"He's what you look for in a top-of-the-rotation guy: demeanor, body, the stuff, the work ethic, obviously the arm. There's huge pros to both of them. When you're succeeding at one, I don't want him to think about anything other than what he's doing now."

Entire article


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