Papelbon: Collapse 'snuck up on everybody'

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Papelbon: Collapse 'snuck up on everybody'

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

As it turns out, the Red Sox's September collapse was as sudden and surprising to the players in the clubhouse as it was to the rest of the world. According to Jonathan Papelbon, there were locker room issues that never got resolved, and before they knew it, they were at home, watching playoff baseball instead of taking part in it.

"I think it just snuck up on us," Papelbon told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "It snuck up on Tito. I think it snuck up on GM Theo Epstein. I think it snuck up on the players, and I think it snuck up on the leaders in that Red Sox clubhouse that had been there for the past six, seven, eight years.

"That's why I feel like it's kind of hard to point a finger on somebody. But just as quick as it snuck on Tito, with the team being kind of out of sorts, I think it snuck up on the players and the general manager. It snuck up on everybody."

The fact that the Red Sox jettisoned their manager was equally unnerving for the Red Sox's closer.

"I wouldn't say surprised. That's a bad word to use. I would say more like shocked," said Papelbon about Francona's departure. "The shock value increased and the realization that, you know, if I come back to Boston next year I was more like, is this really happening? I wasn't surprised. It's hard to be surprised in Boston because every little whisper people try to run with it. It's hard to be surprised."

Apparently, though, when it comes to the most headline-worthy locker room problem plaguing the 2011 Red Sox, there were no whispers of drinking in the clubhouse during games because Papelbon said never heard anything about it.

"I have no idea about that," Papelbon said. "I'm getting ready from the first inning. I come in from batting practice, and when I get done with BP, I get my pregame meal and do what I need to, and then I start getting ready for the game. As far as starting pitchers drinking in the clubhouse, I would have never seen it because I'm worried about the Jonathan Papelbon-type things. I 'm not worried about if I need to go find out what the starting pitchers are doing. You see what I'm saying? So from 6 o'clock to 7 o'clock I'm trying to get locked in. From 7 o'clock on, I'm in my routine to go get ready. So, no, it was a shock to me. I had no clue.

"I think everybody in Major League Baseball is their own entity," he added. "So I don't get how people can say, 'You know this didn't work with that.' I think that I'm my own entity. And if I show up to work and bust my ass to put myself in position to do my job I put myself in position to do my job. If I could put myself in a position to be successful every day, then that's all you can ask from every guy in that clubhouse. And I can't answer that for each person. I don't know if they're doing what they feel like they need to be doing to be successful. That's their personal approach."

When asked at what point the Red Sox seemed to be spiriling downward, Papelbon said, "When we were in Tampa Bay, middle of September. When we went there, we lost."

That's when David Ortiz took matters into his own hands and called a team meeting. It wasn't enough to snap the Red Sox out of their funk, but it was something.

"You could see the things kind of like, the team kind of unraveling a bit, and I know David could kind of see that, you know, the frustration. So he called a team meeting," Papelbon remembered. "I'm not going to tell you what the team meeting was about. It was just like, 'Hey, let's get our act together. I'm one of the leaders, and this is what we have got to do to succeed. This is what we can't do to fail.'

"I think that not to say it (earlier) isn't David's fault by any means because he didn't know the timing of the whole Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and myself and Dustin and some of the guys that had been in the clubhouse for a little while, had we said, 'Hey, let's get these guys together, let's get our team together, and kind of re-evaluate our plans for the end of the season if it was two weeks earlier, we might not be sitting on the phone taking about this. This is all hindsight. Nobody knows."

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

Quotes, Notes and Stars of the Red Sox’ 5-4 win over the Angels

Quotes

"It's a joke. That's a brutal call for whoever's back in New York looking at it.'' - Mike Scioscia on decision not to cite fan interference on ground-rule double in the ninth.

"We played with 26 players tonight. I was like, 'Yes!''' - David Ortiz on the fan who touched Daniel Nava's double.

"If I had to go back and do it all over again, I probably would have just thrown a knuckleball. I didn't want to walk a guy, but I've got to think about the bigger picture and just swallow the walk.'' - Steven Wright, on the fastball thrown to C.J. Cron, who hit a grand slam.

Notes

* David Ortiz moved into 19th place all-time in home runs with No. 522, breaking a tie with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

* Ortiz collected his 2,000th hit as a member of the Red Sox, something only six other players in history have accomplished.

* Ortiz also passed Thomas in career RBI with 1,704, good for 23rd place.

* Ortiz extended his Fenway hitting streak to 18 games. He's reached base at home in every home game since April 29.

* Steven Wright has allowed just six homers all season, but three have come in the last four games. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox teammates to record 100 hits each before the team's 81st game since 1988 when four players did so - Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Mike Greenwell and Marty Barrett.

* The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Red Sox against the Angels.

* The game marked the 47th time in first 79 games that the Sox have collected 10 or more hits. That leads the majors, with Kansas City and Detroit next at 39.

* The Sox are 23-9 in Brock Holt's starts.

Stars

1) David Ortiz

Ortiz had a three-hit game with two singles and a homer, the last of which was his 2,000th hit in a Red Sox uniform. The homer also was career home run No. 522, moving him past three Hall of Famers into 19th place all-time.

2) Brock Holt

Holt announced his presence loud and clear with two doubles, two runs scored, an RBI and an assist from the outfield.

3) C.J. Cron

Cron made things mighty interesting with one swing of the bat in the sixth, driving a ball into the Monster Seats for a grand slam that brought the Angels back to within a run.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

First Impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels

* John Farrell faced a tough call with Steven Wright in the sixth.

Wright doesn't fare well in wet weather, as the Red Sox learned earlier this season when he tried to pitch in a steady rain against Houston. With a downpour, Wright wasn't able to grip his signature knuckler, and the results showed.

In the fifth and into the sixth, the rain was picking up. By the start of the sixth, the rain intensified, and Wright began to struggle. He allowed a leadoff double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte and walked Daniel Nava to load the bases.

Farrell had Matt Barnes warming, but the manager was clearly trying to get his starter through the sixth and limit the bullpen workload, having gone to the pen in the third inning Monday and the seventh inning Wednesday.

The move backfired when C.J. Cron hit a grand slam. Wright has been terrific this season, but his inability to pitch when there's any rain at all creates a unique challenge for his manager.

* Brock Holt made his presence felt right away.

Holt missed more than a month with a concussion, and admitted before Friday's game that he still wasn't 100 percent recovered.

But that hardly seemed the case Friday night. In the field, Holt fielded a line drive in the corer by C.J. Cron and fired a strike to second, cutting down Cron attempting to stretch a single into a double.

At the plate, meanwhile, Holt clubbed two doubles to left.

Holt used that same inside-out swing both times to take pitches the other way, expertly using the Wall and Fenway to his advantage.

For the past week, the Red Sox were shuffling a few outfielders, none of whom had had much experience -- or success -- at the big league level. Even if he's not 100 percent and can't be counted on every day yet, Holt could provide a nice jolt to the bottom third of the order.

* Ortiz continues to pile up records.

His solo homer in the fifth - a line shot that curled past the right field foul pole, into the box seats -- was No. 522 of his career. That enabled Ortiz to move past three Hall of Famers: Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams -- with one swing.

Ortiz had been tied with the trio in 19th place for most career homers.

The homer also marked his 2,000th hit with the Red Sox. He became the seventh player to amass 2,000 hits in a Red Sox uniform. The others: Williams,  Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Bobby Doerr and Wade Boggs.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam