Papelbon: 'Cinco Ocho' to take mound at Fenway

Papelbon: 'Cinco Ocho' to take mound at Fenway
May 27, 2013, 6:45 pm
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BOSTON – Since leaving the Red Sox after the 2011 season, Jonathan Papelbon swears he has not looked back and thought of the ‘what ifs.’ Or of much else.
 
“Not really. To be honest with you I don’t think about what ifs a whole lot,” Papelbon said. “Man, I got a crazy, hectic life with two young kids and just moved to Philly and I don’t, I’m not that kind of person. I don’t really stop and think.
 
“In my role, if I’m out there thinking, I’m going to lose. And I’ve taken that into my life. And I just go and I really don’t think about a whole lot of things until maybe it’s too late. But I just go.”
 
Papelbon went. The most successful closer in Red Sox history with 219 saves, went to the Phillies as a free agent after the 2011 season, which ended disastrously for the Sox, and Papelbon was charged with two blown saves in three opportunities in the final week of the season.
 
He is back in Fenway Park for two games with the Phillies, the first time he has been back since then.
 
"It's a absolute thrill to be here, to play at this park again and hopefully get on the mound and pitch,” said Papelbon, sitting in the visitors’ dugout before Monday’s game. “I think this is one of my all-time favorite mounds to pitch off of. And obviously the crowd will be intense tonight.”
 
He has fond memories of his time with the Red Sox, who took him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.

"Obviously, our championships that we won here,” he said. “The memories of pitching in so many situations where the game was on the line and having fun with it. I think every time I took the mound here it was fun.”
 
But all of that seems like a long time ago.
 
“It does seem like a long time ago,” Papelbon said. “But a lot of great memories here, a lot of great times. I’ve turned the page. I'll think about all that when my career's over. It’s hard to think about now. Right now it's just blowin' and goin'. And that’s just kind of the way I go about it.”
 
He hasn’t followed the ups and downs of the Sox since he left. He’s just focused on his new  team and his pitching.
 
Papelbon enters the series 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season, with an ERA of 0.96.  His 17 2/3 scoreless innings streak is the second-longest active streak in the National League, and second-longest of his career, behind 22 scoreless innings in 2011.
 
He’s not sure what kind of reception he will get from the Fenway crowd when he goes to the mound from the visitors’ bullpen for the first time.
 
"Oh, man, you know, I don't know,” he said. “Hopefully I'll be received well. But I will also accept the fact that I might now. But hopefully, the fans will understand that what I did here was come here and help win. That’s the only thing that I really wanted to do here. Hopefully they'll understand that while I was here that’s all I really wanted to do, help the ball club win and we won. So hopefully they’ll recognize that. But if they don’t, I’ll understand it and I get it and I’ll welcome it with open arms.”
 
He’s a different pitcher now, he said, more of a complete pitcher and not just a thrower. He might even have added a knuckleball to his repertoire, he said.  But, if you want to know any more about that, you’ll have to ask someone else.
 
"I'm not going to take the mound tonight,” he said. “You got to ask Cinco Ocho that question, man. I’m not going to be out there. You know that already.”
 
Yes, his alter ego went to Philadelphia with him.
 
Asked what he thought about when he arrived at Fenway today, Papelbon said his first thought was of having to meet with the media. Then he wondered if clubhouse manager Joe Cochrane would have stocked the type of bubble gum he likes. Beyond that?
 
"I'm being totally honest with you, there really is nothing going on here,” he said. “The surroundings may be different, but for me, I’m just coming here and trying to beat the Red Sox for two days. Period. And that’s really all that boils down to.
 
“That’s really it. Now as far as for Cincho Ocho, I can’t speak for him, he might do something crazy. I don’t know.”