- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Despite the way the 2009 season ended for the Boston Red Sox, Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t feel like he has anything to prove this year.
The Red Sox’s closer imploded in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels last October. The hard-throwing right-hander retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the ninth inning before allowing three runs as the Angels gained a 7-6 lead and held on for the victory to complete and three-game sweep and end Boston’s playoff hopes.
Papelbon used that subpar outing as motivation this offseason and plans on rebuilding himself during spring training.
“This spring is different than any other spring,” he said. “A lot of the reason being the way the season ended last year. It reset my mindset to go out there and start my postseason streak all over again. It’s almost like a new challenge. It’s a new chapter in my game. I’m excited for it.”
Papelbon worked one inning against the Twins on Thursday and retired the side in order in the top of the third. He’s bringing the splitter back into his repertoire; he was able to work on that pitch Thursday night, and plans on concentrating on it this spring.
“It felt good, and I was able to throw them for strikes,” he said. “Anytime I can throw it for strikes and balls, it feels good.”
“I’ve got some adjustments to make, and I’ve got challenges in front of me, but as far as proving anything –- no,” he said.