ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Jonathan Papelbon’s slow play once again drew the ire of Major League Baseball, which fined the Red Sox closer today for taking too long to deliver a pitch for at least the fifth time this season, an infraction incurred Tuesday night.
The league fined Papelbon $5,000 for a failure to comply with a new rule designed to increase the pace of games. Papelbon vowed he would finally adjust to the rules while not allowing them to change his mound approach.
“What am I supposed to do it about, you know?” Papelbon said. “Ain’t nothing I can do about it. I’ll make an adjustment and move on. That’s it. It’s not going to affect my pitching. That’s for sure.”
Papelbon has been fined for similar infractions multiple times this season. “I think it’s the fifth or seventh,” he said. “One of the two.”
The league instituted two rules this season for pitchers intended to speed play. They must throw the first pitch of inning no more than 2 minutes and 20 seconds following the final out of the previous inning. Pitchers are given 12 seconds to throw a pitch once a batter settles into the box
Papelbon has been slow to adjust to both rules. His latest was for taking too long entering the game Tuesday night. During his outing, the first six-out save of his career, umpires called Papelbon for a ball for taking too long between pitches.
“It’s something I’ve got to get used to,” Papelbon said. “When I come in from the bullpen, I got to speed it up.”
The first pace-of-game violation cost Papelbon $1,000 and escalated from there. He has since lost count of how much the league has fined him for, but he knows the total has grown into five-figures.
The Boston Herald first reported Papelbon’s fine earlier this evening on its Web site.
Papelbon does not believe the Red Sox will help him pay the latest fine, “but then again, I don’t know,” he said. The club has discussed with Papelbon the need to comply with the rules.
“That’s ongoing conversations,” pitching coach John Farrell said. “You have to balance a pitcher’s pre-pitch routine and yet still be effective. A rule is a rule. You’ve got to abide and operate within those.”
Farrell believes Papelbon will be able to warm up more quickly without sacrificing performance.
“Anytime you have changes or adjustments, there’s a period in which you have to get comfort with it,” Farrell said. “So if it’s a quicker tempo, a little bit more of a quicker pace to his overall game, that’s going to take some harnessing. The one thing he has shown repeatedly is that any adjustments that has been presented to him, he’s adapted very quickly and continued to pitch well.”