Jonathan Papelbon has made it clear over the past few years that he feels a certain honor in being part of MLB’s closer club. He’s spoken at length about Mariano Rivera and all his feats, and Papelbon’s also said he wants to set a standard for contracts for closers when he reaches free agency.
So when a fellow closer suffers an injury that could potentially end a season, Papelbon is not short on empathy.
“For sure, it hits home for me,” Papelbon told WEEI.com. “Any pitcher, it’s something that you always have to be aware of and try and not push the limits, but that’s such a hard thing to do. It’s like a high-wire act, because your natural instinct is to always go out there and pitch, even when you’re feeling a little bit of pain.”
The injury Nathan suffered is a torn ligament in his right elbow. The tear of the ulnar collateral ligament is reportedly “significant.”
Papelbon was asked whether seeing another closer suffer such a serious injury would have changed his mind if it happened in 2007, when Papelbon chose to remain a closer instead of become a starter.
“It wouldn’t have affected my decision,” Papelbon told WEEI.com. “I made my decision solely based on the contentment of my heart and what I want to show up every day and do. … I had everybody and their mother, agents included, saying, ‘You need to be a starter. Oh, you’re going to make more money. Oh, you’ve got to stay healthy. This, that or the other thing.’ Right now it looks like I’m making the right decision. Who knows four years ago if I would have been on four All-Star rosters and won a World Series with team in ’07 if I wouldn’t have.
“So it looks like right now ‘Cinco Ocho’ is right, and everybody else is wrong.”
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