Jonathan Papelbon has 2 1/2 years remaining on the largest contract ever rewarded to a reliever in the history of baseball. If he wants to avoid the venomous boos he was serenaded with while and after blowing a save on Thursday night, he might want to do at least one of two things:
Pitch better and/or attempt to be less critical of others.
Papelbon's comments earlier this week - saying he didn't sign here to be on a losing team and that the organization needed to make changes "from top to bottom" - didn't exactly play well in Philadelphia. They played a lot worse when the closer took the mound after Cole Hamels threw 8 shutout innings on Thursday and quickly blew his 6th save in his last 13 chances.
Some highlights from postgame Papelbon:
Q: How frustrating for you personally, taking the mound after a well-pitched game, it's 1-0, your adrenaline has to be kicking in...?
Papelbon: (It starts with an) Infield hit. Obviously I want to go in and preserve wins for these starters, man. Because that’s what I take pride in. But some nights, it really, you just go back in the dugout and you kind of scratch your head, like, what just happened. A tough pill to swallow.
Q: You have 6 blown saves. Do you have to look at yourself, figure out what's going on?
Papelbon: No. Not me. I think my ball has life at the plate, which is all I care about it. If I’m getting hit all over the ballpark with hard hit balls, I have to reassess, after a night like tonight you just kind of chalk it up to that’s that. I felt like, honestly, I felt all of my pitches were working. I felt good. I felt strong. It was just one of those nights.
Q: You were really hearing it from the fans. Believe it was related to your comments earlier in the week, do they need clarity?
Papelbon: I think they speak for themselves. Whether I blow a game or whether I save a game, whatever is happening within the organization, I feel like I’m honest and forthcoming and I’m the same way after games like tonight. I accept things. I don’t shy away from things. That’s just the way I approach it and that’s just the way I go to work on a daily basis. I feel like that’s the best way to go about a day’s work is to just be honest with yourself and be honest with the position you’re in and not try to sugarcoat anything or trying to see something for what it’s not. That’s the way I’ve always been. I go by facts and I stand by what I say. I don’t feel like I said anything that wasn’t untrue.
What I say and what I do is based on seeing yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and if you’re working hard and if you’re not working hard and being real and not sugarcoating anything, I don’t think. This is the big leagues, this isn’t coaches pitch. At the end of the day not everyone gets a trophy. You have to look yourself in the mirror and examine yourself if you’re consistently not getting the job done. You make adjustments, it’s a game of adjustments unless you don’t got to make any. It’s pretty simple, really.
Q: Do you personally have to make adjustments?
Papelbon: I think for me this year it’s been a constant adjustment on how to figure out how to go without pitching or pitching in tie ballgames a lot. I think for me more than anything there have been some situations that have come up that have been fairly new for me. I think for me I just try to go out there one day at a time to see how I can get better each day and not necessarily worry about struggling and whatnot.
Q: Your strikeout numbers are down, you know.
Papelbon: I think every year is different. Like I said earlier, if I was giving up a lot of home runs or giving up lots of doubles and stuff like that, I would start to make adjustments. But after tonight I just chalk it up to that’s baseball.
Q: Your velocity is also down.
Papelbon: I’m not going out there and trying to blow anybody away. I’m trying to get outs. That’s basically what it boils down to.
Q: Did making those comments put extra pressure on you?
Papelbon: No, no. I don’t really think about it at all. I don’t really watch TV, read the paper or really listen to what’s going on. I’m kind of in a zone during the season. I have a routine I stick to and not of that really involves reading or listening or watching TV.
Q: Did you talk to Ruben (Amaro Jr.) or Charlie (Manuel) about comments?
Papelbon: I don’t think there is anything to really hash out. Facts are facts and when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself.