FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You know the ninth inning didn't go as planned for the Red Sox when Jonathan Papelbon started the inning, but it ended with the box score reading: "Save, Portice.”
As in Eammon E. Portice, who spent last season in the bullpen for the Portland Sea Dogs.
The plan was for Papelbon to finish Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day game against the Mets, but he departed with two outs and four runs in on two hits and two walks. He had a similar rough outing last Friday against the Minnesota Twins, when he was charged with three runs on three hits and a walk and only registered one out. In between, he pitched a clean inning against the Yankees on Monday, but his spring ERA sits at 12.60.
Not to worry, a stern-looking Papelbon said as he fiddled with his iPad in front of his locker. Concerned?
"Not one bit,'' he said.
"I'm just basically trying to find my delivery, and iron out the kinks. Iron out the kinks before the season rolls around. Basically it.''
Papelbon is scheduled to make his next appearance in minor-league camp throwing two innings, probably on Sunday. The Sox are doing the same with Bobby Jenks on Friday.
"I feel like I'm still locked in on my mechanics, just a tick off,” Papelbon said. "I'm not searching. I know exactly what's going on in my delivery, and for me, it's not a big deal at all, because it's just a minor little detail for me.''
The spring-training setting also cannot be dismissed for a guy whose living depends on the adrenaline rush he gets on that jog from the bullpen with the game on the line. Still, it's Papelbon, in a contract year, coming off an off-year, with another closer (Jenks) in camp. Even spring training outings get some tongues wagging.
"I'm trying to get my delivery where it's perfect every day,'' he said, "and right now it's just not. It's just spring, you know.''