Papelbon, who is generally outspoken when asked his opinion, may have just ruffled a few feathers in the Philadelphia locker room, as he called the Phillies’ leadership into question while discussing the state of the team.
“Since I’ve been here I haven’t seen any leadership,” Papelbon said, according to the Allentown Morning Call.
That’s a bold statement by Papelbon, especially given the veteran-laden roster in Philadelphia. The All-Star closer seems to also understand, though, that his team underachieved big time last season, and that there needs to be some changes before the Phillies can once again compete in the NL East — something that’s even more difficult now with the emergence of the Nationals and the talent in place down in Atlanta.
“I think we’re capable of greatness,” Papelbon reportedly said. “I think we’re capable of a world championship. I really, truly believe that. But the biggest key for us is that we’re going to have to find our identity, and we’re going to have to find our identity quick.”
The Phillies certainly lacked an identity last season, when they finished 81-81 and in third place in the NL East. A big reason for the struggles was the injury bug, as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were among those who missed a significant amount of time. Papelbon understands the expectations are still high in Philly, though, and he therefore wants to make sure the club starts off on the right foot in 2013.
“Every good team that I’ve been a part of has had a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that’s a recipe for success,” Papelbon reportedly said. “But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don’t go out and do what we’re capable [of] and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose.”
Papelbon saved 38 games and had a 2.44 ERA in 2012, but he feels he could have approached his first season in Philadelphia a little bit differently despite the All-Star credentials.
“I felt like I could have been a little bit better leader than what I was, and I held back at some times,” Papelbon reportedly said. “Hindsight’s 20-20.”
Hindsight is 20-20, which makes one wonder if Papelbon could end up regretting questioning his teammates’ leadership. Given how opinionated he has always been, however, it’s more likely that he’ll stick to his guns going forward.
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