By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- With his 30th save of the season in Fridays win over the Rays, Jonathan Papelbon became the first pitcher in baseball history to record 30 saves in his first six full big league seasons. A fact of which Francona was unaware.
I didnt even know that, Francona said. I didnt know it was 30 last night. My heart was in my throat hoping we would win.
Theres a lot of things to be impressed about. I think you guys have been around long enough to know I love sitting up here bragging about my guys. I think thats the way its supposed to be. The way hes come back. Hes always been good, but he set the bar so high his first couple of years, then when it wasnt quite the same, he came back this year with a vengeance. Hes been good, and hes been consistent and hes worked hard.
Hes carefree but hes a good kid. Everybody thats been around him knows he means well. When you give him that ball hes got one thing, he wants to beat the other team. Its kind of been nice, and especially nice when you see guys come through the organization and you see them grow up.
I can remember that time in Fort Lauderdale in spring training when he missed the bus, he thought the bus was going to swing by and pick him up. Now you look at a guy whos got 30 saves in six straight seasons. Its kind of funny.
There was a time, though, when Papelbon was set to join the rotation, before he decided in the middle of spring training his future would be as a closer.
It was difficult because organizationally I knew where we stood, Francona said. We had meetings and team-wise I was so uncomfortable going into the season without . . . I think I remember telling you guys the story former pitching coach John Farrell and I driving down Route 41 and talking about our staff. We both kept saying were not comfortable with where were at in the bullpen but organizationally were going to do whats right.
"Pap came up to me and it was just like time to, this is not an omen or a sign, but time to go to general manager Theo Epstein with this. Im glad we did.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.