Jonathan Papelbon Defends Former Teammates, Expects Red Sox to Rebound in 2012

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CLEARWATER, Fla. –– The memory of Robert Andino's walk-off hit in September hasn't faded. But Jonathan Papelbon –– who was charged with the loss –– isn't dwelling on the pitch to the Orioles that ended the Red Sox' season.

"You've got to be able to learn from [mistakes] still and learn from the situation, but I don't sit there and think about it all spring," Papelbon said, referring to the 4-3 loss against the Orioles on Sept. 29. "You go over things and try to learn from them, but you've got to turn the page."

Even as the closer prepares for his new era in Philadelphia, he defended his teammates in Boston for the 7-20 collapse in September. The meltdown was punctuated by a 4-3 loss that cost the Red Sox the wild card.

But Papelbon downplayed the notion that players who drank beer and chicken in the clubhouse were responsible for the losing streak.

"Nobody truly knows what was going on," Papelbon said. "I truly don't know because I was worried about myself and my own job. Just because a team struggles doesn't mean they're doing what they're supposed to be doing.

"I've always said when you're winning, it cures everything. But when you lose, there's got to be a reason why you lose. Is [the chicken and beer incident] why we lost? No. It had nothing to do with it."

The collapse ultimately resulted in an offseason overhaul. With general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona leaving, Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine took over the respective vacancies.

Although Papelbon has switched clubs, he has maintained contact with several former teammates in Boston. After chatting with them, he remained optimistic the Red Sox would rebound in 2012.

"They'll be motivated," Papelbon said. "There's too many good guys and competitors in that clubhouse that have too much pride to lay down. Those guys aren't going to come into this season and lay down. They're going to work hard."

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