The Number Shuffle
We know Jonathan Papelbon‘s alter ego “Cinco Ocho” is based on the No. 58 on the back of his jersey.
But when he came to Philadelphia he knew Antonio Bastardo had the number. No big deal. Papelbon and Bastardo have the same agents, so Bastardo had no problem handing his number to the Phillies’ new closer. (Papelbon gave Bastardo a Rolex for the effort.) Of course, then Bastardo needed a new number. Phillies director of team travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger gave Bastardo a few options, and Bastardo finally settled on No. 37.
Now, Justin De Fratus wore No. 37 the final couple weeks of the 2011 season. But that’s not enough service time to keep it, so he handed the number to Bastardo. Not that he minded. Because when Coppenbarger started to rattle off a few numbers for De Fratus, he blurted out, “How about 79?”
“Are you serious?” Coppenbarger said.
“Yeah,” De Fratus replied. “I wore it in the (Arizona) Fall League (in 2010).”
Coppenbarger said he had no problem with that. In fact, he liked it because De Fratus will never have to worry about any player asking him for his number ever again. But he also made sure De Fratus really wanted it. Coppenbarger said, “Hey, if you pick this you’ve got to stick with it. If your teammates start giving you a hard time you can’t start switching around.” De Fratus said he wanted it.
So he’s got it.
And that’s how Papelbon got 58, Bastardo got 37 and De Fratus got 79.
“I wore it in the Fall League and I had a good Fall League,” De Fratus said. “So why not?”
From Sunday in Clearwater: