Thursday, March 22, 2007
Erin Andrews of ESPN and Curt Schilling of 38Pitches.com are reporting that Papelbon is heading back to the pen. Schilling could be the hardest working man in baseball – CEO, Blogger, and Starting Pitcher. My fellow blogger states:
This wasn’t done because we have ‘too much starting pitching’, or because anyone was panicked about who would do what in the pen, it was done because John has worked his ass off to be where he needs to be, to close in the big leagues again. His shoulder feels great, which is priority number one, and him closing for us makes this staff look entirely different for the long haul.
This was echoed in the Herald this morning.
“The most important thing with Jon is his health. We’ve been really pleasantly surprised at how strong his shoulder is,” Epstein said. “If you took a handful of the strongest shoulders in camp, he’d be on that list, which is unbelievable progress for him. (Closing) is obviously something he can do extremely well. We’d never rule it out for the long term.”
So it seems like Theo measures long-term in hours.
Other than the medical evidence that starters fared better than relievers after Pap’s type of shoulder injury, the overwhelming consensus was to see Pap running out of the pen. The question now is will Pap the reliever pitch enough to be more valuable than Pap the starter.
“If I do go out and close, there will be no four days in a row, five days in a row,” he said. “I have to have a better understanding with Tito (Francona) when I’m going to come in and pitch. I’m not going to come in and pitch the eighth and ninth. There’s going to have to be some regulations we’re going to have to follow in order to keep me healthy...”
As regulars know, I’m a big proponent of using your closer before the ninth when prudent, so it is a concern that Pap said he will not see the hill in the eighth. (For example, up one run with men on base, the heart of the opponent’s lineup due and tomorrow is an off day.) Pitching effectively in multiple innings is what made Pap stand out above the rest. If he won’t go in the eighth, the Sox still have an issue in the pen. But the Olde Towne Team is better and could take a huge step forward if the first Benedict Arnold returns to the Fens.