An All-Star in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Papelbon spoke candidly about leaving the Red Sox as a free agent this past offseason, acknowledging that Francona's ouster played a large role in his decision.
"I'd say it closed the door," Papelbon said during Monday's media availability session from the All-Star Game at Kansas City. "Not 100 percent, but I wasn't gonna go there and not know what manager I'd be playing for."
Francona and the Red Sox parted ways after the club collapsed last September and missed the playoffs. Shortly after that, the Boston Globe published a story painting the Red Sox clubhouse as dysfunctional and Francona as a manager unable to control the situation.
Papelbon described Francona as a "scapegoat" for Boston's collapse and said the two-time World Series-winning manager was instrumental in his development as a dominant closer.
"Tito told me how to play big league baseball," Papelbon said. "He picked me up when I was falling down. He told me the ins and outs of how to prepare, how to be successful, how to succeed. ... And man, something just clicked in my head.
"From the first spring training, sitting down with me and explaining how it works and how to be successful and everything. He was like a father figure to me sometimes. To go from having him for a manager from 2005-2011, it's just, him being gone, that wouldn't have been easy for me."
The all-time saves leader in Red Sox history, Papelbon confirmed that Boston did not offer him a contract.
"(The Red Sox) wanted to see if I could go out and test the market and maybe come back," said Papelbon, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. "I don't know if they would (have countered), but I don't go back. I go forward.
"I go full-steam ahead. I don't look back. I've got a car that don't have rearview mirrors in it. I just go."
Papelbon has 18 saves and a 3.34 ERA in 33 appearances this season with the last-place Phillies, who entered the All-Star break with a 37-50 record. The five-time All-Star said he likes Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, comparing him to Francona.
"Charlie's a really good manager," he said. "Charlie's very similar to Tito. Charlie gets on you when he needs to get on you and lets you be who you need to be."