Pap leaves Boston in the rear-view mirror

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Pap leaves Boston in the rear-view mirror

Jonathan Papelbon made it very clear he's happy to be in Philadelphia.

Sorry to be leaving Boston? That wasn't nearly as evident.

The Phillies' new closer said virtually nothing about the Red Sox -- good, bad or indifferent -- despite being given multiple opportunities to do so in his introductory press conference Monday as a member of the Phils. If he was at all affected at no longer being with the only team he's ever played for, he hid it perfectly.

But he sure dropped some hints.

"I'm loyal to those who are loyal to me," he said in explaining why he signed so quickly with the Phillies, adding it was "evident to me how classy this organization is."

"The Phillies showed that they were interested in me and you know I wanted to make this decision quick and get it over with," he said. "I didn't want to sit there and debate whether I should go back to Boston. The Phillies showed they wanted me and showed me the respect, and I showed them the respect back."

Loyalty. Respect. Class. All words Papelbon used to describe the Phillies. All words he failed to use to describe the Red Sox.

"It didn't really boil down to going back to the Red Sox," he said. "I knew that these guys wanted me and I made my decision right then and there."

New Sox general manager Ben Cherington said last week that the team hadn't made an offer to Papelbon, which he confirmed Monday.

"There were no talks with the Red Sox as far as getting something done and both of us agreeing on," he said. "There were talks, but I don't think that anything evolved."

Stunning by its absence was any reference, of any kind, to the Sox. No goodbyes to anyone. (When asked if the departures of general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona had any effect on his decision, he dismissed it by saying: "That's part of the nature of this game. Players come and go every year, coaches come and go every year.") No perfunctory, "I had a great seven years there". Nothing about the fans . . . except to obliquely compare Phillies fans to Red Sox fans when talking about how much he'll enjoy the atmosphere in Philadelphia. It's as if he's arriving in Philly from nowhere, with no past to reference and no memories he'll cherish.

He's gone. And it doesn't sound like he'll miss anything he left behind . . . including the song ('I'm Shipping Up To Boston' by the Dropkick Murphys) that greeted him whenever he entered a game at Fenway Park.

"Yes," he said with a smile, "I will change my entrance song for sure."

Red Sox must solve pitching issues from within

Red Sox must solve pitching issues from within

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Having lost seven and a half games in the standings in the month of June, the Red Sox most assuredly have fallen.

Now the question is: can they get up?

Can the Red Sox slam the brakes on the kind of play they've displayed in recent weeks and reclaim their season? And how is it that a team that played as well as the Red Sox did for the first two months can play as poorly as the Sox have since late May?

One thing seems patently obvious, in the wake of yet another demoralizing defeat Tuesday at the hands of a team which had previously lost it last 11 games: any turnaround the Red Sox execute is going to be self-generated.

There will be no savior, no white knight on a horse, arriving via trade -- not anytime soon, anyway.

Like the under-siege babysitter in the horror classic When a Stranger Calls, the problems for the Red Sox are internal: "We've traced the (issue); it's coming from inside (the pitching staff).''

That much has been obvious for some time now. But what's most sobering is that the solution must be found within the organization.

"To say that someone else is going to walk through that door,'' noted John Farrell, "from another organization, I'm not banking on that.''

That's wise on Farrell's part, since Dave Dombrowski has signaled as much. There's not much help available more than a month before the deadline. And frankly, the Red Sox problems go beyond any one individual.

Say, for instance, that the Red Sox could somehow obtain an upgrade over Clay Buchholz. That still wouldn't account for the spot now made vacant by the demotion of Eduardo Rodriguez Monday night after the lefty was torched for nine runs in just 2 1/3 innings.

It would be difficult enough, given the calendar and the laws of supply-and-demand, for Dombrowski to land a quality starting pitcher before the end of the week. But to somehow acquire two arms? That's not happening.

Instead, the Red Sox have to get both Buchholz and Rodriguez to contribute.

Farrell essentially laid down a challenge to the players in his post-game exhortation late Monday night, pushing them to keep relying on one another and fight through their collective slump.

The rest will be up to pitching coach Carl Willis, who must identify the flaws for Buchholz and Rodriguez and guide them back to form. Willis was properly credited with doing a nice job after taking over a month into the season last year, but has not been as successful in stabilizing the rotation this season.

If the Sox don't show some turnaround, will Willis's job be in jeopardy? And further, how vulnerable will Farrell be if the Red Sox can't execute better?

There's some comfort in the fact that the offensive spigot seems turned back on in recent days, and with imminent return of Brock Holt, and, not far behind, Chris Young, the Sox should have a more formidable everyday lineup to say nothing of a vastly improved bench.

But then, for the most part, scoring runs hasn't been the problem often for the Red Sox.

It’s about the pitching, stupid. And the answers -- just like the problems that began this free fall in the first place -- must come from within.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

Price asks Red Sox fans for support: 'We will get through this'

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Price asks Red Sox fans for support: 'We will get through this'

If you're upset with the way the Red Sox have played recently, well, David Price understands.

But things, he vows, will get better. And he adds that it's only when you've been in the deepest valley that you can appreciate the highest mountain.

Or something like that . . .

Rodriguez shipped back to PawSox as Sox seek rotation answers

Rodriguez shipped back to PawSox as Sox seek rotation answers

After Eduardo Rodriguez's horrific performance Monday night against the Rays -- 11 hits and 9 earned runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings, leading to a 13-7 Red Sox loss to a team that entered the game riding an 11-game losing streak -- the Sox succumbed to the obvious and shipped him back to Pawtucket.  

And they got no argument from Sean McAdam.

"I think this is the right move," CSN's Red Sox Insider told Dalen Cuff on Monday night's SportsNet Central. "Because, clearly, the step forward that [Rodriguez] took, however small, last week was more than wiped out and (he) regressed this evening the way he pitched. And things have to be worked out, both in terms of execution and his approach . . . "

In six starts this season covering 29 1/3 innings -- less than five innings a start -- Rodriguez has been, in a word, awful. His 1-3 record is bad enough, but couple that with an 8.59 ERA, an opponents' batting average of .315, a WHIP of 1.74 and nine home runs allowed (a rate that projects out to about 45 homers allowed in a 150-inning season), and you can see why a change had to be made.

“The bottom line is, [Rodriguez] is capable of more," said manager John Farrell.

But now comes the next question: Who replaces him? And that, noted McAdam, has no easy answer.

"What it means for the rotation going forward is completely uncertain," McAdam told Cuff. "In fact, (Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski) told us that there was no corresponding move. Of course, because this turn doesn't come up in the rotation for another five days with the off-day Thursday, it's not anything they need to address (immediately). And in all likelihood, they'll probably get somebody to pitch out of the bullpen here until that turn comes up."

So the Sox get five days to ponder a problem that seems, in many ways unsolvable.

"[There] aren't a lot of good candidates internally," McAdam noted, "and it's unlikely there's going to be any sort of trade . . . in the next four days to fill that spot