Papelbon will pitch in relief on Thursday against the Twins at City of Palms Park, Francona announced Monday. Starting the game will be Josh Beckett.
A year ago, Papelbon did not debut as early due to the World Baseball Classic creating an extended spring training. Francona and the Boston staff feared that getting Papelbon into a game early last year would not help him in getting ready for the season.
Papelbon is attempting to incorporate his split-finger fastball and slider back into his repertoire after getting away from his secondary pitches the last couple of years. Getting on the mound and throwing these pitches in a game is crucial to developing a level of comfort. Papelbon spoke about this topic Sunday on Spring Break Live.
“He’s looked real good so far,” Francona told ESPN.com. “He’s really strong and
ahead of where he was last year. He feels good and he looks good.”