CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jonathan Papelbon has been both a reliever and a starter in pro ball and has no doubt that former teammate Daniel Bard, who is attempting to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation, can make the transition.
"I had a long talk with Daniel this offseason about that,'' Papelbon revealed after reporting to camp with the Philadelpha Phillies. "I'm excited to see what he can do. I think Daniel has a phenomenal career ahead of him and in my opinion, there's no reason why he can't start.
"Daniel can do whatever he wants to do. He's that good. He's matured into a phenomenal pitcher and he's only going to get better. The sky's the limit for him. It truly, really is. He can really go out there and do whatever he sets his mind to.''
Papelbon very nearly went to the rotation in 2007 because of some long-term concerns about his shoulder holding up under all the pressure of being a closer.
Ultimately, with a few weeks left in spring training, Papelbon went to then-manager Terry Francona and asked to go back to the bullpen.
"When that happened to me,'' he recounted, "I had to go with my heart. I had to go with what I felt like I was going to be successful with for 162 games. For me, when I asked myself that question, that was closing.
"I learned how to pitch being a closer in college. That's what drives me, what gets me up every morning and makes me want to go to work. I couldn't ignore that.''