Jonathan Papelbon: “I feel like we’re going to contend. I mean there’s no doubt about that.”


Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon worked a stress-free sixth inning in Saturday’s 4-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Blue Jays, but it was what he said to the media after the game that drew interest. Via CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:

“We’ve got a pretty good vibe going in this clubhouse, the best vibe I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said. “That’s exciting. It’s a little bit of a different feel, the attitude, the camaraderie, all that. It’s not just one thing.

“I feel like we’re going to contend. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think anyone in this clubhouse, especially the veterans, feels like we’re not going to contend. It’s like I said earlier, I don’t think it’s a total rebuild where we’re letting everybody go. I think we’re in it to win it, and we’re going to see what happens until it’s dictated otherwise.”

Papelbon has been known to toy with the media in the past, so it’s tough to take his statements at face value. At the very least, it’s exactly what a veteran player should be saying to the media despite some very obvious signs from the Phillies lately.  Only bad things would have happened if he had said he expects the Phillies to be the worst team in baseball in 2015.

The Phillies are expected to continue to shop Papelbon throughout the year. The 34-year-old is owed $13 million for the 2015 season and his $13 million option for 2016 vests if he finishes 48 games. As a result, only a handful of teams (including the Brewers and Blue Jays) showed interest during the offseason.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.


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