The Red Sox have an established trio of fiery relievers for their late-inning showdowns this season, but general manager Theo Epstein insists that there will be no competition surrounding the role of team closer. That responsibility still lies in the hands of Jonathan Papelbon.
Even with the recent signing of former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, Epstein confirmed that Papelbon's job is not in jeopardy, and Jenks will be utilized as a setup man in the Red Sox' bullpen, according to ESPN.com.
"We feel really lucky that Bobby wanted to pitch here, and we were able to get someone of his caliber to join our bullpen and help Dan Bard set up for Pap," Epstein said during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. "It's not every day you can bring in someone of his caliber without a closer opening. We feel lucky that it happened."
When asked about how Papelbon was feeling about Jenks' addition, Epstein said he hadn't discussed the signing with his closer, but he's been keeping Papelbon's agent up to speed with all the recent happenings in Red Sox Nation. The GM said he doesn't expect any complaints from Papelbon's end.
"We obviously still see [Papelbon] as our closer and now we have two power setup guys to get him the ball in the ninth inning. Pap, I'm sure, is fine with this. Who wouldn't want guys like this pitching alongside him in the bullpen? Pap kind of disappears during the offseason and does his own thing and then shows up ready to go in spring training and in great shape as always."
When Epstein eventually does hear from Papelbon regarding Jenks' contract with Boston, he expects a reaction similar to many others in Boston.
"Every time we add someone of quality to the bullpen he's excited about it, and that should certainly be the case again this time," Epstein said.
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