As everybody knows, before Jonathan Papelbon signed his four-year contract with the Phillies before the 2012 season, the All-Star closer spent his entire career beforehand with the Boston Red Sox. In seven seasons in a Red Sox uni, Papelbon collected over 200 saves and was a key element of the 2007 World Champion team.
Entering his last season in his contract with the Phillies, Papelbon has collected over 100 saves and has not made the playoffs with his new club. Along with being a controversial player on the mound, Papelbon has taken heat for being a controversial interviewee with the media.
The Phillies opened the 2015 season on Monday against the Boston Red Sox. Opening Day is regarded as an unofficial national holiday that baseball fans rejoice once it arrives. For the media, it's a frenzy and with everybody talking into the mic, Jonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters - including Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe.
Papelbon was asked questions regarding this season-opening series with the Red Sox and he had quite a lot to say.
“The Red Sox are a part of who I am, man,” Papelbon said. “I don’t really feel much like a Phillie.
“Boston’s where I was born and raised. It’s kind of like that, you know. It’s the city you were born and raised in.”
Now from a personal standpoint, it's easy to understand where he's coming from, but from a fan's standpoint - especially a Philadelphia Phillies fan's standpoint, you just don't say those kinds of things.
Papelbon has been here for three full seasons, and has given us a lot of great moments to remember - and also a lot that we'd like to forget. In three seasons with the Phillies, Papelbon has continued what he did in Boston on the hill. He's shut down the batting order in the top half and bottom half of the innings he's pitched and he's also blown plenty amount of saves. With Papelbon's years of MLB service to the MLB hitting 10 seasons in 2015, he went on to say that he hasn't even begun to get settled here.
“It’s been a tough transition over here,” Papelbon said. “I’m not going to lie. It’s been tough. Tough getting used to the way it is here. It’s two totally different organizations.
“The way they’re ran, the way they’re coached, the players that are on them. Two totally different styles of baseball. I don’t know if I can honestly tell you if I’m even used to it yet.”
Okay, so maybe the Phillies have gone under a very rough transition period over the past five seasons. Going from a World Series caliber team to a bottom-feeding team of bashed up veterans and inexperienced minor leaguers in big league uniforms isn't necessarily a good stage for any player - especially one who signed on for a long amount of time to win championships.
Papelbon has moved from a young player to more of a mentor and veteran leader of this Phillies bullpen. Over the years, he has been noted to teach and mentor a lot of the bullpen members including Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and Ken Giles.
“I feel like with this bullpen here, it’s just been some young guys that have looked up to either me or other older veterans in our bullpen throughout the last three years,” Papelbon said. “The great thing about our bullpen here is it’s easy because you have such great talent to work with. We have a really talented bullpen, but time will tell.”
It is true that time will tell. Will Jonathan Papelbon finish out the 2015 season in a Phillies uniform? Will he be traded to a contender come July if the Phillies, who are expected to win less than 70 games this season, come to the conclusion that he can draw some young talent via trade? Will his comments like these reported in this story have a strong pull on the Phillies' fanbase and reach back up to the front office?
Only time will tell.
Erik Seybold is a writer for Philliedelphia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Erik SeyboldPHI.