Yo, Philly, meet your new big brother.
His name is Jonathan Papelbon.
The Phillies ’ closer was booed lustily when he entered Thursday’s game, but that’s what happens when you blow a save and take the loss in the previous two nights’ games.
Papelbon righted the ship Thursday afternoon. Even after throwing 55 pitches the previous two nights, he answered the call and delivered a 10-pitch save in the Phillies’ sweep-averting, 2-1 win over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
It was his 24th save of the season and the 310th of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage for 21st on the all-time list.
Papelbon did not mind hearing boos from some of the crowd of 33,358.
He feeds off wearing the black hat, loves being the villain. Boos don’t bother him.
They fuel him.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “I just think that it’s fun. It just brings a little bit of energy and life to the park and gives me a little bit of something to look forward to do every day.”
Papelbon regretted that only half the ballpark booed him.
“I heard some of them,” he said. “But that’s it ? Maybe we can get the whole park going here soon.”
Papelbon explained why boos don’t bother him.
“You’ve got to be able to take it if you want to dish it out, right?” he said. “I think that goes both ways for me. It’s kind of like a big brother-little brother relationship, I would say.”
And what would that make Pap, the big brother or the little brother?
“Big brother,” he said without hesitation.
Paplebon also likes some of the, ahem, nice things he hears from fans in the bullpen. And he hears lots of them.
“Of course, man, I play in Philadelphia,” he said. “Yeah, there’s some good ones. I can’t really say them on camera. But there’s some good ones. You get a chuckle every now and then.
“It doesn’t bother me, man. I enjoy playing here. I really do. It’s all part of the territory man.”
Two and a half years into his tenure in Philadelphia, Papelbon is finally showing the good side of his personality. He was ornery, as pleasant as barbed wire, for most of the first two years here. He’s still ornery now, but it’s more like pro-wrestler ornery, more like his inner Ric Flair coming out.
It’s all the latest example of this: They learn to say hello when it’s time to say good-bye.
Papelbon is very much on the trade block — and he would welcome a ticket out of Philadelphia. The question is: Will any team take him and his high salary? The Tigers and Angels, two teams with closer woes, passed on him and acquired other closers.
So maybe Papelbon, owed the remainder of $13 million this year, $13 million next year and possibly another $13 million in 2016 if his option kicks in, sticks around a little longer.
It sounds like he will have a positive attitude if he does.
“For me, I really, really like our situation down there in the bullpen. I really truly do,” he said. “I like being a part of it. Just the circumstances are we’re not in a playoff situation or a winning situation right now and, of course, if I had the opportunity to go to a playoff contending team, yeah that’s all fine and dandy.
“But at the end of the day, if nothing happens, nothing happens. I don’t have any control over that. Like I said, I enjoy my situation here and we’ve got a great captain down there in (bullpen coach) Rod Nichols and a great group of young guys that are all hungry and push me and I push them and it’s a fun atmosphere. We’ve got a good thing going down there and if I was to leave, I would be lying to say I wouldn’t miss that.”
After throwing 65 pitches the last three games, Papelbon will likely have the night off Friday.
But if he gets in the game Saturday night, feel free to greet him the way he likes to be greeted.
Boo his ass.
— Jim Salisbury, CSNPhilly.com
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