By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
If the Red Sox don't win enough games over the next seven days to qualify for the postseason -- and that's hardly a guarantee -- it's possible that both closer Jontahan Papelbon and DH David Ortiz played their final home games as members of
the Red Sox Wednesday night.
Papelbon and Ortiz are free agents after the season. Papelbon has been anticipating his chance to make the most of free agency for several years while Ortiz is intent on getting a multi-year deal following this, his best season since 2006.
Given the Red Sox' reluctance to commit long-term to closers who already have high mileage and some concerns they might have about extending a DH in his mid-30s, it's not impossible to think that they both could be playing elsewhere when the 2012 season begins.
And unless the Sox successfully hold off both the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the next week, the Red Sox careers of both Papelbon and Ortiz might have ended in a hail of boos and catcalls as the Sox trudged off the field Wednesday, having lost three of the last four and seven of the last 10 at Fenway.
Ortiz said he hadn't given that much consideration after the Red Sox' 6-4 setback to Baltimore.
"Not really,'' he said. "I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm focused in on winning games and trying to get to the playoffs. I'm not thinking about any other crap right now.''
Papelbon had a slightly different viewpoint.
"I thought about it,'' admitted Papelbon. "It's a thought. But I just carried on with the rest of my day -- leave it behind and go. You're human, you have to think about those things. If someone tells you they're not, they're lying to you.
"But the thing is with me, I think about it for five or 10 minutes while we're shagging or whatever. And then on to the next thought.''
Papelbon said whatever thoughts he had about the future and where he'll be next season came before the game, and not when he was going out to the bullpen in the middle of the game, or, after, when the Sox were walking off the field.
''Once you cross the white lines,'' he said, "it's all about competition. That's it.''
Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners and later traded to the Minnesota Twins before being non-tendered and joining the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season.
But for Papelbon -- drafted and developed by Boston -- the Red Sox are the only organization he's ever known.
"Yeah, it would be disappointing (if this was the end),'' he said. "There's a part of my heart that belongs here. So, that little bit of my heart would be like, 'Oh man . . . ' you know. But it goes back to (what I said about maintaining focus): it kind of comes and goes.''
Papelbon was part of the 2007 World Series team and has been at his best in the postseason, where, until the final game of the Sox' sweep at the hands of the Angels in 2009, he had never allowed an earned run.
Toward that end, despite the team's nosedive, he's enjoying the fact that the games are important and there's a must-win atmosphere.
"I enjoy this,'' he said of the playoff atmosphere. "I'm an adrenaline junkie. This is what gets me off, man.''