Papelbon has something to prove this year


Papelbon has something to prove this year

By Maureen Mullen

FORT MYERS, Fla. Jonathan Papelbon knows he has something to prove this spring. But, it has nothing to do with last season, when he posted career-worst numbers in several categories. It has nothing to do with the addition of Bobby Jenks. It has nothing to do with the emergence of Daniel Bard.

I think every year you got something to prove, man, he said. Im not coming into spring training saying, Everything is going to be handed to me and I dont have anything to work on, and I dont have to go out there and prove anything. Every year every player has something to prove, regardless if youre in a long-term deal, youre not in a long-term deal, you had a good season last year, you didnt have a good season last year. I think every player comes in trying to prove their worth every year.

Papelbon didnt have a good season last year. He knows that.

I wouldnt say the word discouraging, he said. I would say for me I wasnt discouraged. I tried to search for answers too much and obviously as a athlete you cant do that. I never got discouraged. I always was trying to better myself and find out the next answer. At times it was a little bit of overkill for me and thats why Im coming into this spring trying to simplify my delivery and everything else that goes along with it.

It has worked so far. In one inning against the Marlins Saturday afternoon in the Red Sox 11-2 loss to the Marlins at City of Palms Park, Papelbon faced three batters, striking out one. He has not given up a hit, a run, or a walk in two outings, spanning two innings, this spring.

I think the biggest thing Im pleased with is my fastball right now, he said. The balls coming out of my hand really well and got that late life to it which is always a plus for me. Ive been able to get out there and throw my slider and split just as much, which has been a key for me because its something Im going to have to definitely be able to do this year. Both of those pitches feel really well.

Manager Terry Francona was pleased with what he saw from his closer.

I thought Pap was really encouraging, he said. His direction to the plate, the ball was down and you didn't see that fastball wandering.

That late life on Papelbons pitches was missing for most of last season.

My delivery wasnt on time, he said. Timings everything and I didnt have that timing last year.

He has it now, and would like to continue working on it.

I dont really want to work on anything else next, he said. I just want to continue to repeat my delivery and continue to work on my other pitches and continue to be on time with my delivery. I think thats going to be the main focus this spring, is just being able to go day in and day out and repeat the good delivery.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays



"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.



* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.



1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.


First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4


First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:


* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.


* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.


* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.