PHILADELPHIA -- It's not just that Jonathan Papelbon is more wrapped up than ever when it comes to his fictional alter ego, Cinco Ocho.
But even within that conceit, Papelbon seemed to contradict himself as he met the media prior to facing the Red Sox, his former team, for the first time.
When Papelbon was asked if pitching against his ex-team would feel any different, Papelbon dismissed the notion out of hand.
"I don't think it will be,'' said Papelbon. "I'm just going to let Cinco take over, man. I'm not really worried about it.''
But seconds after saying this would be just any series, Papelbon did an about-face.
"I think I've been looking forward to this series since the day I signed here,'' said Papelbon. "Facing old teammates . . . bragging rights. It's like you played with your brother in backyard for so many years. You want to have those bragging rights. I don't want to have to hear from Dustin Pedroia or someone like that in a text message; I want to be giving it to him. It will be fun, though.''
Asked who had the advantage in a potential matchup -- Papelbon, or the hitters with whom he once played -- Papelbon chose a third option.
"Cinco's always got the advantage,'' said Papelbon. "Cinco Ocho always has the advantage. He don't know how he do, he just do. Never underestimate Cinco Ocho. Don't ever bet against him.'
Turning slightly more serious for a minute, Papelbon recalled his 6 12 seasons in Boston with fondness.
"I'm proud of, obviously, the championships we won there,'' said Papelbon. "I'm proud of being a part of an organization that taught me how to play in the big leagues. I'm proud of playing for a manager in Tito Francona that taught me how to be a man, how to accept failure, taught me how to accept winning. I could sit here and talk all day. But for me, it's a lot of memories and a lot of good people that surrounded them.''
Papelbon said the matchup with the Red Sox that most intrigues him is facing David Ortiz, or as Papelbon referred to him, "Big Sloppy.''
"That's my man,'' said Papelbon. "But he's not playing tonight. I knew he wouldn't play, man. Just the fact that, if he gets me, I won't ever be able to say anything to him. But if I get him, I'll always be able to say something to him.
"We're like brothers. That's it, man. It's bragging rights.''
Papelbon continues to monitor his former team from afar, but isn't terribly surprised that the Sox have had a sluggish start.
"Shoot, we had a slow start,'' he said, referring to the Phillies. "The Red Sox had a lot of missing piece (because of injuries), just like we've got a lot of missing pieces. It's hard to get going when you don't have everybody there, day-in and day-out. It's part of the game; that's why you play 162 games.''