By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. Jonathan Papelbon threw 30 or more pitches in four outings last season. In each of those four games he was charged with blown saves although once coming away with a win and one loss.
Friday, in his fourth Grapefruit League outing, Papelbon threw 30 pitches, just 13 for strikes, and was charged with a blown save and a loss. Entering the game against the Twins with a two-run lead in the fifth inning, Papelbon recorded just one out a sacrifice fly giving up three runs as the Red Sox lost, 3-2.
Papelbons outing went like this: Double by Jason Kubel; stolen base by pinch-runner Ben Revere; hit Steve Holm with a pitch; sacrifice fly by Denard Span; walk to Tsuyoshi Nishioka; walk to Jason Rwpko. Papelbon left the bases loaded with one out for Jason Rice, who allowed a sacrifice fly to to ex-Red Sox first basean Jeff Bailey before ending the inning.
Six batters, three runs, one hit, three walks, a stolen base, and a hit batter, while recording just one out. They were the first runs, hits, or walks Papelbon has allowed this spring.
He struggled with command, up in the zone, said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was managing the split-squad game. I still thought he had some life. I thought he threw some good splits that had some good action, but he just was up in the zone. I think its something that he can look back on and say, OK, I had some bite to my split, a little adjustment.' Back in the zone with his fastball.
If Im in the season, I leave him in the game because hes capable of working out of that situation. But here in spring training we went and got him.
Papelbon declined to talk after his outing.
Said one scout in attendance: He struggled with throwing strikes and putting hitters away when he did get ahead. He appeared to be rushing his delivery some and had trouble finding his release point. But he has time to get it together.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen