Jonathan Papelbon thinks “it’s great” that the team acquired Billy Wagner today for two minor leaguers to be named later, trying to put some distance between the words which created controversy earlier this week when he questioned whether Wagner’s arrival might cause a disruption to the bullpen as presently constituted.
“We’re excited to have him, and hopefully he’ll help us win a championship,” Papelbon said before tonight’s game against the White Sox.
Asked if he felt any reason to clear something up with Wagner, he said, “There’s nothing really to discuss, and if there is something to discuss it’ll be behind closed doors.”
Papelbon has felt his words were taken out of context and expressed that to manager Terry Francona.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s just a simple thing that when things are taken out of context, you get to where you’re going to affect the ballclub. It affects them to where, now you’re going to have an effect on whether we’re going to get a player or not. Now you’re affecting whether we may win a championship. And when you do things like that I just don’t think that’s the right way to go about it. People make mistakes and people learn from them. I think everybody in this clubhouse is a man and admits to what they do. I’ve said things in the past and I’ve never strayed from them. If I need to apologize for something, I’ll apologize. This is a situation where there’s nothing for me to apologize about. I said nothing demeaning about him. We’ll get along great. I know we will. I’m looking really forward to seeing how he works and maybe picking up a couple of things from him.”
Papelbon said the big thing Wagner will bring is “some competitiveness, not only to the ballclub, but to our bullpen. Hopefully he’ll help us in that stretch run toward a championship. The reason he’s coming over here is one reason — to win a championship– which I think everybody is on board for.”
Papelbon said he’s watched Wagner quite often over the years and the “big thing is he pitches with heart. I love guys like that. They go out there and they wear their heart on their sleeve. ‘I’m gonna get you, you’re gonna get me type of thing.'”
Papelbon thinks adding another lefty will take some of the burden off Hideki Okajima. He also said he’d be more than willing to help Wagner with transition to the American League, where he’s never pitched.
“If he comes to me for advice I’d be willing and able to give him all the advice I can. I don’t think he’ll struggle. I don’t think this is a situation where you’ll have a guy come over here and you’ll be afraid to get people out or pitch in this league. When you get to the stretch run and you get into the postseason there’s a lot of weight that tends to be out on that bullpen. When you have leads in the later part of the games those are huge.”