Papelbon to close

Just got back from watching a few innings of the Red Sox-Phillies game on TV at Boston Beer Works.

(Spring is in the air...home opener is in less than three weeks...Fenway is getting spruced up and should be ready on time.)

Wake was getting knocked around a bit, and Jamie Moyer was looking pretty good. Then Wily Mo blasted one deeeeeep to left. (He also looks pretty good — VERY good — every time he connects. Every other time, he looks awful.)

Later on, Wakefield walked, Cora legged out an infield dink to third, and Youkilis, whose goatee grows more frightening by the day, launched another one to make the score 4-2.

Anyway, about this time Papelbon was in the pen, tossing around a weighted yellow softball. No surprise there. He was scheduled to relieve Wake this game. As the camera fixed on him, the sound was off. I noticed they had ace reporter Erin Andrews on the line, but could not hear what she was saying.

Now I do.

Papelbon is gonna close.

I’d seen the article in the Herald this morning, but just wrote it off as another bit off filler as we ramp up to opening day. Sure, he might take the reigns if everyone else spits the bit.

But it appears that, with a week-plus still left to go in spring training, the decision has been made: Paps to the pen, Tavarez will be the fifth starter.

Dunno about you, but I’m nervous, nervous, nervous about this one.

Of course, it serves a glaring need. And of course crazy JT is better starting (as he showed late last season) than closing.

But this strikes me as a move premised on desperation rather than confidence. The official announcement has yet to be made, and there may be news that I don’t know. But the whole reason we even considered slotting him in the rotation was the regular workload that would ease the strain on his shoulder. Now, before the season has even started, we’ve already signed him up for the uneven, stressful workload of a Major League closer. What changed between yesterday and today?

Of course we know he can handle it. He’s a gamer, and he spits nails. He wants to help any way he can.

But what about his shoulder? If he has another “transient subluxation event” I’m gonna puke. (“Transient upchuck-desperation event”?)

Believe me, the thought of a hothead with control problems like Tavarez closing games gave me fits, too.

And if Papelbon can put together a season even approaching what he did before he was shut down last year, then we’re in great shape whether the fifth starter is Tavarez, Lester (can we assume he's a lot further along than we'd hoped?), or even Snyder.

But I’d be lying if I said this didn’t make me very, very uneasy.

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