Making his first appearance against the Red Sox since bolting for the Phillies in the offseason, Jonathan Papelbon wants bragging rights over his former teammates. And the closer would love nothing better than to strike out one particular ex-teammate.
"Big Sloppy –– that's my man," Papelbon said, joking about David Ortiz's Big Papi nickname. "Just the fact that if he gets me, I won't ever be able to say nothing to him, but if I get him, I'll always be able to say something to him. That's how it is."
It sets the table for an interesting interleague series. During spring training, Papelbon officially closed the door on his Boston career, where he owned a 2.33 ERA and converted 219 saves –– which stands as the organization's all-time mark for saves.
Papelbon, who has dubbed himself Cinco Ocho, has noticed similarities between his star-studded current and former clubs. Although Red Sox hitters know his pitches, Papelbon doesn't expect the familiarity to be a factor.
"Whatever [Cinco Ocho] does, he don't know how he do, he just do," Papelbon said, referring to himself in the third person. "He always got the advantage. Never underestimate Cinco Ocho. It's 10-to-1 odds. Don't ever bet against him."
Cinco Ocho is clearly ready to exact playful revenge. In fact, Papelbon said this weekend's series was circled on his calendar ever since he inked his deal as the highest-paid closer in Major League Baseball.
Although competitive juices are flowing, the Phillies closer took a moment to cherish his achievements during his seven-year stint with the Red Sox.
"I'm proud of, obviously, the championships that we won there," Papelbon said. "I'm proud of being a part of an organization that I felt like taught me how to play in the big leagues. I'm proud of playing for a manager in Tito [Terry Francona] who taught me how to be a man, who taught me how to accept failure, taught me how to accept winning."
Despite changing leagues, Papelpon has continued to produce in Philadelphia. In 15 1/3 innings this season, he has tallied a 2.35 ERA with 18 strikeouts, and has gone 11-for-11 in save situations.
Papelbon's only wish –– for now –– was that he could've made his first appearance against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. When asked about a possible reception, Papelbon reverted to his identity crisis.
"I think Pap would get a really good reception," Papelbon said. "Cinco, I don't know what kind of reception he would get."
Regardless, Cinco Ocho is ready to wreak havoc.
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