FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the second time in three outings, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has been unable to get through an inning. With more than two weeks left in spring training, he is not concerned.
"Nope, not one bit," Papelbon said when asked if he was worried with his recent results.
The right-hander gave up three runs on one hit, three walks and a hit batter in just one-third of an inning last week at Minnesota. After a solid showing against the New York Yankees on Monday, he failed to get the last three outs on Thursday after entering the ninth inning of an 8-1 game against the New York Mets.
Papelbon hit the first Met he faced before getting two quick outs. Consecutive walks loaded the bases and a double by Justin Turner drove in all three runners. Another double made it 8-5 and Papelbon was pulled before he could throw too many more pitches. Eammon Portice came on to get the last out.
With the ugly line, Papelbon's spring ERA has soared to 12.60. He has walked five and hit two batters in the span of five innings. He said he was locked in early in camp, in fact earlier than he had ever been locked in, but now is seemingly dealing with a mechanical issue.
"No, I don't feel like I've fallen out of it. I still feel very locked in," Papelbon said. "For me, right now, I'm just a tick off on my mechanics. I'm not searching, I know exactly what's going on. I can feel it in my delivery. For me it's not a big deal at all because I know it's just a minor detail."
His manager seemed to agree.
"I thought today he just got out in front, a little quick in his delivery," Terry Francona said. "Everything flattened out a little bit and his fastball wandered a little bit."
The closer will next be sent to the minor league camp to get a two-inning outing. Both he and Francona are confident that the session will do him some good.
"I'm just trying to find my delivery and iron out the kinks," Papelbon said. "That's basically it."