Picked-up pieces while packing for another 10 days in Fort Myers . . .
Incredibly, he didn't pitch much at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville.
''I was a sophomore in college [Mississippi State] when they made me a pitcher," said Papelbon, as he dressed in front of his locker at the Sox minor league complex in the early days of spring training. ''I think I pitched 13 innings in high school. It's a private school known for baseball and there was a lot of politics.
''I played first base and pitched some mop-up whenever they needed me. My coach catches some hell for that now. At Mississippi State, I'd throw the ball across the infield from first base and they'd notice. They needed help at pitching, and I said, 'I can pitch.' "
Now 25 years old with 17 games of big league experience under his belt (which makes him a rookie still), Papelbon is at the center of big debates about the Red Sox pitching staff. Should the kid start or close?
The Sox have seven starters (counting David Wells, who has done everything he can to separate himself from the team this spring), but no less an authority than Curt Schilling has indicated it would be a big mistake not to include Papelbon in the rotation.
Papelbon had a 2.25 ERA in his three starts with the Sox after he was called up in July last year. He looked pretty good in the bullpen, too. The kid throws in the mid 90s and has 34 strikeouts in 34 innings in the big leagues.
''I had a talk with Tito and Theo when I was up in Boston and they said we were going to feel it out in spring training and see what happens, so we've got a long road ahead of us," Papelbon said. ''I told them, 'Look, regardless of what you have me do, I just want to go out there and help any way I can. It really doesn't matter to me. I just want to help out.'
''Yeah, I want to be in the rotation. No doubt about it. And I told them that. But we've got guys who can be in the rotation and get the job done. Proven veterans. But I told them, 'If you need help in the rotation, that's where I want to be.' "
He said his breakthrough game in 2005 was a 5 2/3-inning start in Anaheim Aug. 21 when he held the Angels scoreless on five hits in his portion of a 5-1 Red Sox victory.
He's already posed for one magazine cover and said he had no trouble with the spotlight that comes with playing baseball in Boston.
''When I got drafted by this team, I was part of a Nation," he said. ''I want to be part of something special here and I want to be part of a team in a city where when you go out there, you're expected to win. That's the only way I know how to play. That's how I compete. I want to be part of something where they expect me to go out and do it and if I don't do good, go ahead and boo me. It doesn't really get to me."
And the Clemens comparisons?
''I'm just trying to be myself and stay true to my roots. Just go out there and be Jon Papelbon. I don't want to go out there and be Roger Clemens. Yeah, I want to accomplish things that Roger's accomplished. But I don't want to be Roger Clemens. I just want to go out there and be the person that my mom and dad raised me to be and be the person that I grew up being."
He hasn't met Clemens, but he teased pitching coach Al Nipper about not having the clout to bring the Rocket back to Boston. Nipper was Clemens's best friend in the clubhouse when the two teamed at Fenway, and Nipper sees similarities in Papelbon.
''I told him a couple of years ago that the way he acts and his body language reminds me of Roger," said the coach. ''Things he says and the way he says them are exactly the things Roger would say. He's got the same mentality. It's really uncanny. And it's encouraging because he has the same work ethic as Roger.
''He's got a power arm and is an aggressive guy. He's a student of the game and very coachable. He's got the fastball, slider, and the split is coming. His curveball is probably his fourth-best pitch."
Papelbon's twin brothers, Josh and Jeremy, pitch for the University of North Florida. Josh is a righty closer and Jeremy is a lefty starter. Last summer they pitched in Steve Buckley's Old-Time Baseball Game at St. Peter's Field in Cambridge.
Wouldn't that be a shame -- Pedro ducking Boston? He should know that fans forever will love him in our city.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is email@example.com.