Positive or Negative, Pap Speaks
Jonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters this afternoon at Bright House Field, and he had plenty to say about leadership, positivity, negativity and his performance on the field.
Much of the conversation centered on his attitude and influence in the clubhouse. It is no secret he wasn’t a happy man last season (examples HERE and HERE). He also didn’t dominate the ninth inning like he had in the past. A combination of those things are why the Phillies actively tried to trade him, not only before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but during the offseason. The Phillies simply felt he no longer fit into their clubhouse. But finding no takers for the $50 million closer, Papelbon returned to camp saying he plans to be a more positive influence in 2014.
Of course, he said similar things in Spring Training 2013, so we will see.
Here are some highlights from his meeting with reporters:
Q: Can you talk about the start of another spring training? Is your attitude different?
A: This year, I’m definitely trying to be a lot more of a positive influence and be more upbeat. It starts from Ryno. It starts from our manager in encouraging us to stay positive and be upbeat even though the last two seasons didn’t go as expected for myself and the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. This spring training is a big, big difference, just in the first few days. There is a lot more upbeat positivity. It’s night and day, it really is.
Q: Is it a reflection of Ryne Sandberg?
A: Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno. He talks about energy and spark. Bringing it every day. Last year and the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us. I let it get to me just as much as anybody. That’s a tough thing to do. As an athlete, we come out here and prepare and put so much hard work into it. When it doesn’t pay off, it’s a hard thing to deal with.
Q: Were you not a positive influence last year?
A: I’m just speaking for myself and nobody else. At times, when you lose 12 games in a row and you’re in Detroit and you say you didn’t come here for this, that gets spinned in a couple of directions. For me, I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I came here to win a world championship. I don’t take losing very well. The one thing I can say that does upset me is a lot of you guys here — not pointing anyone out — took that as I’m a bad teammate, which is definitely not true. I’d break my back for my teammates. I’d do anything. They’re my brothers. I’m with them more than my family. If you could ask all 25 guys in there, I live and die for my teammates.
Q: Were you hurt last year?
A: I wasn’t hurt. I had some stuff barking on me.
Q: Did it impact your performance at all?
A: When you aren’t feeling 100 percent, of course.
Q: Are you healthy now?
A: I’m feeling great.
Q: What was hurt?
A: Just some little nagging stuff.
Q: One reason the Phillies tried trading in the offseason is because they felt you weren’t a fit in their clubhouse anymore. Is their perception of a good teammate different than yours, and is it something you will talk to them about?
A: No, we haven’t talked about that. I said that my teammates know me and they know I’ll break my back for them. I don’t think that’s ever been any issue in any clubhouse I’ve been in. So, I think you can take that and run with it however you want to run with it.
Q: How can you help the young guys in the bullpen?
A: I think for me, what I haven’t done is carry a positive demeanor and a positive attitude. I think losing can affect you and losing can make everything become more negative. It can exaggerate everything else and make it worse. And also at the same time, winning can cover up a lot of bad things. So I think at times I allowed losing to get to me and make things become more negative than what they may or may not have been. I’ve just really tried to come to camp this year and be upbeat and positive. And really, all I’m trying to do is just feed off of our manager, Ryno, and just take this energy and this positivity and go into the season and see where it takes us. Anybody can sit here and say, man, we’ve sucked the last two years and we’ve haven’t made the playoffs and we’ve been damn near last in our division every year – no, I didn’t come here for this, but I didn’t come here to be negative and let that get the best of me, you see what I’m saying? The last two years I might have let that get the best of me. So now what I’m saying is I’m going to turn it around and try to understand that, hey, you know, the only way to turn this around is to start winning and be a positive influence and not let the negativity and the losing get to you. It’s hard to do, but when you put so much work into it and it doesn’t go out, sometimes it happens.
Q: So this is about buying into Ryno?
A: Yeah, buying in, man. Like every morning we have a meeting with Ryno and we talk about things. If you can’t buy into your manager you’re not going to buy into anything.
Q: Did you not buy into Charlie Manuel?
A: When Charlie was here there was already a set environment. There was already a set way of things to do. And they were winning, they were winning, then all of a sudden it hits rock bottom. Literally within a year you start losing. So I think that just took on a whole life of its own. Not that I didn’t buy into it. I bought right in. But two years you lose 100 games a year almost …
Q: You said this stuff last year? Why will this year different?
A: Because I think we have different personnel in place. I think we have a whole new team, a whole new group of guys, a new manager, new guys in the bullpen. It is different.