Over the past six-plus seasons we’ve come to know Jonathan Papelbon as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Maybe he’s not the first name that you think of, but he certainly was up there with the mainstays in Boston. Not anymore.
Papelbon signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and was introduced yesterday during a press conference where he declined to talk much about his time in Boston. He seems completely committed to Philadelphia, which has another fan base that is absolutely rabid about baseball and will no doubt expect a World Series title in the upcoming season. Papelbon says he needs an environment like that in order to thrive. Jonathan Papelbon joined WIP in Philadelphia to discuss why he wanted to come to Philadelphia, closing game for top-of-the-line starters, comparing the atmospheres in Boston and Philly, showing emotion when he saves games, his pitch selection at the end of last year and his new entrance music.
What made you want to go to Philadelphia?:
“The biggest reason I wanted to come here is because of the guys that are in the clubhouse. Playing against these guys the last four years in a Red Sox uniform, I always admired them from afar in the dugout. … When it all boiled down to it, I wanted to go to a team that was going to win and I wanted to go to a team that had a clubhouse with a bunch of group of guys that were just, to put it plain and simple, were a bunch of dirt dogs.”
Is it a special honor to be able to close for some of the guys in the starting rotation?:
“No question. I think for me, the biggest thing for a closer and one of the biggest joys I get is to be able to save and preserve the wins of starters. I definitely take that responsibility very intensely and I think that’s a big thing for a closer.”
Is Philadelphia a different atmosphere than Boston?:
“Yeah, I’m sure there are little differences here and there. But for me, I think it all boils down to playing in front of fans that expect a lot out of their players, playing in front of fans that know the game of baseball and playing in front of fans that simply want to win. … It’s an environment that I know, myself, that I need to take to get my motor going every day.”
On showing his emotions when he pitches:
“If you think about it, the game always boils down to those last three, four, five outs. Your team fights and you go to war for 162 games a year and, for me, I look at it as it’s the same exact thing when a team beats you and hits a walkoff, whether it’s a home run, a base hit … and the entire team runs on the field and dogpiles. To me, there’s no difference when a closer comes in and preserves a win for a team that’s been fighting for eight or nine innings, and when the game’s all said and done, shows emotions. I feel there’s no difference in that.”
You seemed to throw a lot of fastballs and got away from your splitter late in the season. What was going on there?:
“That really boiled down to location. A lot of people want to talk about pitch selection, which I can understand. But the biggest thing besides pitch selection is pitch location. It doesn’t matter what pitch you’re throwing, if you don’t locate it, most likely you’re going to get hit. I think there were times where I was over-throwing a little bit and getting out of the location that I want, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”