PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – To say Jonathan Papelbon’s time as Phillies closer has been rocky would be an understatement. His performance has been inconsistent, and his comments before and after games have drawn some ire from Phillies fans as well.
As it turns out, Papelbon says he just can’t perform up to expectations if the stakes aren’t high.
“When the dial is turned up and there is something on the line, I just seem to be at my best. Um, when it’s a day game in New York and you’re 12 games behind, that dial ain’t really turned up. That ain’t really how I go,” Papelbon said.
“Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno [Ryne Sandberg] talks about energy and spark, and bringing that every day. Last year, the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us and I feel like I let it get to me just as much as anybody,” he said.
Papelbon said that Sandberg is creating an atmosphere that has been missing over the last couple of years.
“You communicate with the players. You get the players to be the best that they can be,” Papelbon said of Sandberg’s style. “I understand that when a team is going well, and there’s a lot of players doing well, and you’re winning balls games, I mean everybody can feed off of that. Teams go through losing streaks and it’s a long season. You ride it out, you have your ups and downs, that’s where I think a reminder, from myself and my coaching staff—but first off from myself—a reminder that hey, we’re all in this together. We have to get it going the other direction, we have to do things differently. That’s my job to stay on top of that.”
As for this year’s team, while expectations seem to be lower than they’ve been in a decade, Papelbon is expecting a lot.
“I have looked at what people have predicted us to do. I don’t necessarily agree with that and if I was a gambling man, I would take us… to go all the way.”