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Epstein: Papelbon is the closer

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 21, 2010 04:20 PM

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Theo Epstein just did a conference call with Bobby Jenks also on the line.

The new Red Sox reliever is trained well in the art of media relations. He kept his answers short and to the point and said nothing that could be misconstrued in the slightest.

The highlights: He's happy and excited to be in Boston, he feels great and he's happy and excited to work with Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard.

Epstein said that Papelbon is the closer and that the new-look bullpen could be one of the best they've had. They're still looking at available lefties but have confidence in Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller and Rich Hill.

The idea with Miller will be to develop him long term as a starter but to use him for now out of the bullpen. The same is true for Doubront.

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: A few comments from Jenks:

On why he chose Boston: "I'm just excited to get the opportunity to come here. Obviously the team they're putting together this year is very exciting and appetizing. I've always wanted to play in Boston. A few years back, I came back here and me and (Josh) Beckett were hanging out and I told him it was one of the places that I've always wanted to be. Once the opportunity was available I jumped on it."

Being a set-up man after closing: "It's all mental. Just got to go out there and be more focused and approach it the same."

On his health: "I feel 100 percent right now. The whole elbow thing going on last year, it was more of scare then something that was actually wrong. Going into the offseason I knew I was 100 percent healthy. It was frustrating to me not to be able to finish out the season but I showed people I was healthy. Medically I was cleared. I threw bullpens at the end of the year at 100 percent. I'll be 100 percent healthy and ready to go."

On his performance last year: "It was just a bad year. Things didn't fall into place. Seemed like every broken bat hit just fell into the right spot. ... It was really frustrating Really, the ball just didn't go my way sometimes."

On working with Papelbon and Bard: "It's going to be exciting. They also have (Dan) Wheeler. I'm excited about all the guys there. ... I get along with everybody on that team so it's going to be a lot of fun working with everyone."

Comments from Epstein

On Jenks: "We felt really lucky that Bobby wanted to pitch here and we were able to get someone of his caliber to join our bullpen and help Daniel Bard set up for Pap. It's no every day you can bring in someone of this caliber without a closer opening. We feel lucky that it happened. Bobby is someone who has great stuff and we see him as more than just a thrower. He really knows how to pitch as well and goes right at guys and throws strikes and brings the kind of fearlessness to the mound that we look for in a market like Boston.

"We think he's going to fit in great and hopefully be part of a pen that's one of the best ones we've had around here in a long time."

On Papelbon: "We kept Pap's agents up to speed the whole time, both earlier in the offseason and then the last couple of weeks as we filled out our bullpen. I felt Pap a voice mail after we signed Jenks to let him know that obviously we still see him as our closer and that now we've got two power set-up guys to get him the ball in the ninth inning.

"Pap I'm sure is fine with this. Who wouldn't want guys like this pitching alongside of them in the bullpen? Pap kind of disappears in the offseason and does his own thing and shows up ready to go in spring training and in great shape like always."

(Just an aside, but does it strike anybody else as odd that the Red Sox can't actually get one of their prominent players on the telephone?)

On the bullpen lefties: "We'll see. We certainly like the non-roster options that we have from the left side with Rich Hill, Andrew Miller (and) Randy Williams. We're certainly comfortable coming to spring training and looking closely at that group. There also are still some guys out there that we're talking to. But we've added a lot of depth, a lot of experience, a lot of power arms and strike-throwers to our pen ... I feel if we broke camp today we'd have an abundance of options."

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