Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Jonathan Papelbon Closes; Keith Foulke Watches

Jonathan Papelbon, the 22-year-old rookie who formerly closed in college at Mississippi State, upstaged fellow reliever Keith Foulke by coming into close for Boston in Wednesday's hotly contested 2-1 win over the Rangers at Arlington. Papelbon methodically retired the side 1-2-3 with two Ks to record his first major league save. Foulke remains the team's closer for now but prompted rampant speculation he might be about to lose the job when he didn't even warm up as the game drew toward its conclusion. Foulke, who was rocky in his first outing Monday after missing much of camp because of a series of lubricant injections into his arthritic knees, said he continues to work to recover his form. Foulke has lost sharpness off his fastball resulting in a fading of contrast from his changeup. Foulke, who clearly was disappointed that he could not come in, could not confirm whether he would keep the job. "You know, I don't go to the grocery store every day and say, 'Hey, I'm the closer.' " However, manager Terry Francona said even though Papelbon is the most effective pitcher on the Red Sox staff, Foulke would return to the closer's job as soon as he is ready.