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Baby comes first for Papelbon

4/17/2010

BOSTON -- Jonathan Papelbon may receive credit for a win Saturday even though he isn't at Fenway Park.

Papelbon was the pitcher of record for the Red Sox when play was suspended Friday night after 8 1/2 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox tied at 1. Papelbon had just struck out B.J. Upton, with Carlos Pena on second as the potential winning run, when umpiring crew chief Brian Gorman stopped play.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he planned to have Papelbon resume pitching if the game went into extra innings, but there was a catch: Papelbon’s wife, Ashley, was at the hospital Saturday afternoon, delivering the couple’s second child. Her husband was with her.

“I don’t think the umbilical cord will reach the mound,’’ Francona said.

“That’ll be a tough call to make,’’ the manager said, imagining a call to Papelbon at the hospital. “'Kick her in the backside. Let’s go.’’’

The idea was that if the baby was born in time, Papelbon would pitch. If not, Daniel Bard would get the call, Francona said.

Just before 6 p.m. on Saturday, Red Sox publicist Pam Ganley popped into the press box and announced that Gunner Robert Papelbon had arrived in the world. Tale of the tape: 8 pounds, 8 ounces, 21 1/2 inches.

Gunner's dad would not be coming to the ballpark Saturday night, Ganley said. No word on whether the pitcher passed out in the maternity ward.

The couple also has a 2-year-old daughter, Parker.

Papelbon had told me back in January of his plans to name their son Gunner. The significance?

''Nothing, man. Just a badass name, so we went with it.''

Francona, let us reiterate, was joking about pressuring Papelbon to speed up the birth. It has always bothered Francona that when he played for Cincinnati, manager Pete Rose told him he could go home for the birth of his child, but that he shouldn’t bother to come back. The Red Sox manager has always encouraged his players to take care of their personal business first.

Francona won’t have to make any pitching decision if the Sox can score in their first at-bat when play resumes. David Ortiz is scheduled to lead off the bottom of the ninth against Rays pitcher Lance Cormier.

Note:

Mike Cameron, who was not available when this game began on Friday, is available should Francona need a substitute in the suspended game, and is in the starting lineup for Saturday’s regularly scheduled game, scheduled to start between 30 minutes and 45 minutes after the end of the suspended affair.

Cameron passed a kidney stone Friday morning, and said he was sore Saturday but that he could play. The pain was unlike anything he has experienced, he said. “I’ve been knocked out,’’ he said, “and this was worse than that. I’ve never been shot, but if getting shot is worse than this, I hope I never get shot.’’