KANSAS CITY -- After reaching free agency, closer Jonathan Papelbon doubted he would return to the Red Sox last fall. Papelbon knew that he was looking for a multi-year deal and the Red Sox were philosophically opposed to giving a 30-something reliever that kind of deal.
But the team's decision, two days after the season ended, to not retain manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein's choice to leave weeks later, essentially sealed the deal and cleared the way for him to sign a four-year, 50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
"To go from having his manager in 2005 to 2011, (returning to Boston without Francona) wouldn't have been easy for me," said Papelbon. "I'd say (Francona leaving) pretty much closed the door. Not 100-percent, but I wasn't going to go there not knowing who I was going to be playing for. I think a manager has a lot to do with how a player can tick.
"Then, Theo bounces . . . Ding, ding, ding, a lightbulb goes off in my head. I said to myself, 'If Theo bounces . . . he created all of this. He wouldn't just leave this behind (if everything looked good). So the wheels started turning. It would have been a new experience and I don't think it would have been one I could handle too well."
Papelbon viewed Francona as a scapegoat and took issue with the theory that some veterans on the 2011 Red Sox took advantage of Francona last September.
"A manager's job is not to babysit," he said. "You're dealing with grown men and grown men should be able to prepare for baseball games in the way they know how to prepare. How they prepare is their own discretion."
In his new setting, Papelbon finds some remarkable similarities between Francona and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
"They're actually pretty similar," said Papelbon. "One is a little bit more laid back than the other. Charlie's a little bit more laid back and he lets the game come to him a little bit more. But they both let their players go out and do what the players know how to do.
"That says a lot because a lot of managers want to control so much. And when you try to do that, you don't let the player go out and be himself and that player isn't as successful. There really isn't much difference (between them)."
Papelbon believed he was going to a winner since the Phils had won the last five National League East titles and won two pennants in that span.
But like his former team, his present team has been decimated by injuries. The Phils lost second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard for almost the entire first half of the season and have been without ace Roy Halladay for the past seven weeks.
The parallel has not been lost on Papelbon.
"I'm sitting here looking at what they're going through (in Boston)," said Papelbon, "and what I could have gone through if I stayed, and it's like we're kind of going through that now in Philadelphia . . . We've kind of weathered the storm half-way decent. I think it's still too close to start dealing players. Now, if we lose 10 in a row after the break, that's a different story. If we come back and win 10-of-12 . . ."
He keeps close tabs on his former team and was asked if he felt the Sox could make a successful run at the post-season in the second half.
"I would hope they think that," said Papelbon. "You're a year removed from the situation Tampa Bay was in (to stage a second-half comeback). Do they need a little bit of luck and some teams beating each other up in the division? Yeah. We need the same thing over in Philadelphia. But it's definitely possible to make a run.
"Whether those guys think that in the clubhouse or not, I don't know."