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.