Jonathan Papelbon may be content pitching for the Phillies right now, but that doesn’t mean Boston — or even pitching for Boston again — is far from his mind.
Papelbon only had good things to say Monday evening before the Red Sox and Phillies faced off at Fenway Park for the first time since Papelbon left two years ago. He was happy to be back in Boston, and the fans seemed happy to have him back.
Those warm feelings take on a different light, though, when the possibility of Papelbon returning to Boston is raised. The Red Sox didn’t pursue Papelbon when he became a free agent after the 2011 season, allowing him to instead sign with the Phillies for four years and $50 million, a contract that runs out in 2015 but has an option for a year beyond that.
But Papelbon has left the door open if the Sox want him back.
“Yeah, I could see myself in Boston,” he told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. “I could see myself pitching in New York. You know me. I’ve always been the kind of guy who … I don’t really settle, or accept things. Whatever happens in my future is going to happen.”
Bradford said a major league source told him that Papelbon has the Red Sox on his no-trade list, one of eight teams designated as such. But rather than that being a sign that Papelbon doesn’t want to be traded to those teams, it’s more likely an indication that Papelbon would be willing to go, and that the Red Sox — and the other teams — were instead marked as no-trade so a new, better deal could be agreed to if a trade were to happen, Bradford says.
Papelbon has been sharp with the Phillies, recording a seventh straight season of 20 or more saves last year. He’s saved all nine of his chances this season and hasn’t given up a run in 17 2/3 innings, a far cry from the regression that many predicted would set in after he left Boston.