Pitching coach Rich Dubee was asked earlier this week if he’d like for Jonathan Papelbon to take a more vocal leadership role this year.
Dubee paused. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds. He smiled.
If you’re around the Phillies team daily, you know Papelbon does plenty of talking. He was easily the loudest presence in the clubhouse last spring despite being a first-year player in a camp with the likes of a few guys who can talk, like Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and even Jimmy Rollins.
Papelbon used his vocal chords earlier this week to lay a pretty strong statement in a story in the Allentown Morning Call.
"Since I've been here I haven't seen any leadership," Papelbon told the paper.
The story went viral Friday morning. A clubhouse with the likes of Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee lacked leadership?
Papelbon backed up his words before today’s intrasquad game.
“I don’t say anything that’s not accurate,” Papelbon said.
So what exactly was he talking about?
“I hope you guys aren’t saying it’s one particular person in general because I put myself in that category,” Papelbon began. “I put myself in that category that I don’t feel like I took a certain leadership as much as I could have with the guys in the bullpen. And I intend to make that change this year. I hope that other guys on this team feel the same way as I do. Granted, we did have a lot of injuries and stuff like that. And that does affect how leadership plays a part with teams.
“Leadership takes the form of many different things and many different players can lead in different ways. I just don’t think there were many situations last year where guys were either, like myself on the team for the first year, guys weren’t able to be there every day because of injuries, all different sorts of things came into play. Hopefully, this year that’ll change. And I think it will.”
The Phillies finished 81-81 last season. They were injured. They underachieved.
But did they have a bad clubhouse?
“No, no, no, no. No, not at all,” Papelbon said. “It was just a clubhouse that didn’t have an identity. And a clubhouse that didn’t have leadership, I felt like. And that’s not to put the blame on any one person or any one coach. That’s just the way it was.
“It’s just the way things unfolded. I’ve been on plenty of teams that way. I said this, too. I was really, really happy the way the season ended and some of the leadership that started to emerge and some of the team’s identity that started to emerge. I believe if we can take that same team identity we had at the end of the season and carry that into the spring and carry that into the season.”
More from Papelbon later…