After seven years with the Red Sox, Papelbon started anew Saturday, opening his first spring training camp as a member of the Phillies. The change of scenery –– along with the new National League competition –– has rejuvenated the All-Star closer.
"I think for me getting into a new clubhouse, meeting new guys and putting my years in Boston behind me and starting a new chapter in my career, it's one of the more exciting things I've been able to do," Papelbon said. "I think this year more than any other year, I've been more excited to get into a clubhouse than any other spring training."
Papelbon left his imprint on Boston. Through seven seasons, he posted a 23-19 record, a 2.33 ERA and converted 219 saves, which stands as the organization's all-time mark for saves.
As the free agent market developed, Papelbon was determined to make a swift decision on his future. Since the Red Sox never extended an offer, he signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Philadelphia to become the second-highest paid closer in baseball.
Three months removed from the decision, the 31-year-old reflected on the process, admitting the challenge of playing in another large market against new faces appealed to him.
"To be honest, there were really some days where it got kind of old sitting there saying 'I've got to face [Yankees shortstop Derek] Jeter again,'" Papelbon said. "He's seen everything I got and I've seen everything he's got. That's why I say it brings a little bit of life to me this year being in a new clubhouse and being able to face new guys."
Despite swapping clubs, Papelbon noted similarities between the clubhouse atmosphere in Boston and the team environment in Philadelphia.
"It's very similar in the way that if you look around the clubhouse and it seems like every other locker there's a superstar in it," he said.
Instead of suiting up alongside Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Adrian Gonzalez with the Red Sox, Papelbon will be going to battle with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard on the Phillies.
Although the change in leagues opens up the possibility for a Boston and Philadelphia matchup in the World Series, Papelbon said he's taking his transition "one day at a time."
Then, of course, he dropped the poker face.
"But I do know when we're playing the Red Sox," Papelbon said.
That would be May 18-20 at Citizens Bank Park.
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