Day 1 in the Fort
I’m back to my home away from home. After a 1,400 mile trek with my wife, the kids and my sister-in-law, I have returned to Fort Myers, which feels as familiar as that comfortable pair of sweat pants I wore almost every day during the winter.
At any rate, it was a fairly quiet day at Early Bird camp, highlighted by Jonathan Papelbon’s first mound session — and media session — since Game 3 of last October’s Division Series. Daisuke Matsuzaka, looking lean and mean, did a car-side interview in the parking lot with Japanese reporters and will hopefully meet with the Boston press on Wednesday.
There were a ton of players participating in the informal workouts, including Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Manny Delcarmen and Tim Wakefield, who kicked off season No. 16 in Boston with his arrival this morning.
Pitchers and catchers are all due to be in Fort Myers by Thursday, with physicals set for Friday and the first full-squad workout on Saturday.
Papelbon spoke to the media for 19 minutes, taking all topics head-on. Here were some snippets.
What about some people thinking it’s a foregone conclusion the righty will leave Boston as soon as he is eligible for free agency?
“I think that’s the perception, that I’m going to go somewhere else, but it’s all a perception. Right now this is the way it’s working out. It’s that simple. It’s one year at a time, it’s working out and both sides are happy. Why would you try to do anything else is my way of thinking. Of course I’d love to be with Boston for a long term,” Papelbon said.
That painful outing against the Angels?
“It’s something that I used for motivation for me this offseason. What else can you do with it? It’s something that you’ve got to learn from and be able to move on. You’re always going to learn [more] from the innings that you struggle in than the ones you’re successful at.”
What happened to the splitter?
“That’s such a feel pitch. It’s a pitch that you have to throw a lot, just like a curveball. Any kind of offspeed pitch, it’s a feel pitch. There were times when I was choking it down a little too much and overthrowing it, and there were times when I was throwing it perfect. But like I said, that comes with experience, and this year I’ll be able to take that into the season right from the get-go.”
The goal for Papelbon now is to start a new postseason streak much like the 26 innings without allowing an earned run that didn’t end until Game 3 against the Angels.
“I’m looking forward to starting that streak all over again for another four or five years, hopefully. That’s how I set my goals – to go on streaks. You go on those long streaks, not get in a rut, come out of them quick, that’s what it’s all about for me in my role.”
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It’s good to be back!