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Papelbon begins life as a closer

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 23, 2007 09:18 AM

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Two interesting things about Jonathan Papelbon.

Scouts have been saying that the last two outings at least that his arm slot has been lower than normal. Papelbon confirmed that "I've been experimenting with things. Nothing serious." Scouts have noticed a noticeable drop, which could be related to his shoulder injury, but Papelbon isn't going there.

The other thing is Papelbon said this morning that he will pitch the ninth inning only and only be used in a save situation.

"It's gonna be similar to the way Joe Torre manages Mariano Rivera," Papelbon said.

Torre has come out and said in spring training that Rivera will only pitch the ninth inning. Papelbon likes the idea of having his appearances managed and his health protected, which will limit his ups and downs warming up in the bullpen.

He also said his shoulder strength will be tested on a daily basis. "If my strength numbers are up, I'll pitch that day. If they're not, I won't."

He did indicate that the starter innings he's been getting will help in strengthening his arm and he might even ask to continue to throw multiple innings to build up.

Papelbon also thinks he can stick to the ninth inning only because, "we have a better bullpen this year. I won't be throwing four days in a row. No throwing in the eighth or the ninth."

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