The day after Jonathan Papelbon dropped his latest verbal salvo, his friend and former bullpen mate Justin DeFratus chimed in hoping to extinguish the flames the Phillies former fireman started.
“Can we just leave the ghosts alone,” DeFratus asked. “[Papelbon] is gone but you and I don’t mean you alone, I mean the media and the fans just have to let go of Jonathan Papelbon. He and Chase [Utley] and Jimmy [Rollins] are gone.”
It’s all true but Utley is more like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Utley couldn’t have made it easier for the Phillies to trade him last month, which only adds to the legend of Utley since most guys with full no-trade think of themselves first.
Papelbon was one of those guys, who thought of himself first and his prickly personality made him difficult to trade. If there are any doubts about that, well, Papelbon’s numbers were very good over the last three years and there were contending teams that desperately needed bullpen help, such as the Detroit Tigers but nobody made a move.
That is until the Washington Nationals risked messing up team chemistry by adding the volatile closer. It worked, well, at least when it came to screwing up the squad’s chemistry.
After the Nationals closer Drew Storen was demoted to set-up man he pouted and then injured his thumb while slamming his locker shut last week effectively ending his season.
The Phillies finally shut the door on the Papelbon era. Freddy Galvis made like Utley after hitting a homer off Papelbon, who blew his first save of the season serving up a hanging splitter Monday night.
Galvis said there wasn’t anything extra special about hitting the game-tying homer off Papelbon. Galvis also didn’t have much to say when asked about Papelbon’s incendiary shot at his former club, in which he stated that “I was one of the few [Phillies] that actually wanted to win and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day.”
Well, it sure looked like Galvis wanted to win, and the young club happened to go on a tear after Papelbon left and Maikel Franco was injured in mid-August.
The day after Papelbon dropped his bomb on Citizens Bank Park a clubhouse attendant in the Nationals clubhouse told Papelbon of the reaction he received after saying that “I think the blame goes all the way front the front office all the way down to the bat boy,” the all-time leader in Phillies saves laughed heartily.
“Don’t give him the attention and he’ll go away like all ghosts do,” DeFratus said.
That advice is spot-on but it’s difficult to take. The inning after Papelbon blew his save, a foul ball was hit in front of the Nats dugout. Papelbon picked up the ball and kissed it before flipping it into the stands.
A fan screamed something unprintable toward Papelbon, who grinned.
“I think it’s time for this team to move forward,” Jeff Francoeur said. “We really got to let go of the negative and dwell on the positive.”
That might not be easy for a team with the worst team in the majors but there are bright spots. The second half was much better than the first half and the young players on the team battle back.
“We want to win badly,” Galvis said. “There’s no doubt about that.”