Papelbon -- or is it Cinco? -- looks to earn bragging rights vs. Sox

675698.jpg

Papelbon -- or is it Cinco? -- looks to earn bragging rights vs. Sox

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.''

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.