Papelbon Returns to Fenway

On a night when Cliff Lee dazzled for eight innings, former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was brought in for the save. Lee left the game having barely broken a sweat, throwing only 95 pitches through eight innings. Papelbon likely was brought in as much to get him some badly needed work as anything.

With some of the issues the Red Sox have had in the ninth inning since Papelbon left for greener pasteurs,
Former Red Sox closer didn't exactly get a hero's welcome
on Tuesday.
there have been those who have questioned the wisdom of letting Papelbon go. That he has gotten so little work since he joined the fallen giants from Philadelphia should answer part of the question. It is impossible to say that the Phillies and their 13th in the National League offense wouldn't be better off having spent Papelbon's $13m 2013 salary on some badly needed offense.

Papelbon was greeted primarily by boos upon his return to Fenway. After the Red Sox let Papelbon walk out the door and scarcely tried to resign him after the 2011 season nobody can compare him to Johnny Damon. That is not to say his act wasn't tired by the end of his time in Boston. Not his dumber-than-dirt persona, although that was wearing thin as well, it was the constant speculation about Papelbon's future while he was here. The real issue is that for the last three to four years he was in Boston so much of the focus on Papelbon was his contract and impending free agency. It is one thing for a player and club to part company, it is another for the player to talk about it for as long as Papelbon did.

Aside from a putrid 2010, Papelbon pitched his tail off in Boston. For most of that time Papelbon made it abundantly clear it was all about him. He always had one eye on his next contract and was never afraid to talk about it. Even if his goofy antics were genuine, they didn't feel genuine to the fan base after awhile. It was unquestionably time for Papelbon to move on. Papelbon managed to make what should have been an amicable breakup feel more like a protracted saga than it should have. That the Red Sox fans remember that when Papelbon came back to Fenway for the first time shouldn't surprise anybody.