CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Closers are adrenaline junkies and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is no different.
So imagine what it's like for him to pitch the fifth inning in a relatively meaningless Grapefruit League game, which he did Saturday in a 15-7 loss to the Rays at Bright House Field. Papelbon retired the side in order, but the results aren't much of a concern to him.
"I'm just trying to just keep my delivery intact, that's it," said Papelbon, who allowed eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first two appearances this spring. "All I try to do really is try to make sure that my delivery gets better and better as spring goes on. I don't worry about velocity. I don't worry about really making pitches until the last few weeks. Really to me, it's all about delivery."
Asked if he feels that when the time comes he will be ready, he replied, "I don't feel like that, no. I know it."
Papelbon, who missed an appearance earlier this week because of illness, said he will truly gear up for the regular season the last few games of the exhibition schedule, which includes a pair of games against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park on March 29-30.
"It's tough," he said when asked about pitching in Spring Training. "It's real tough. It's not easy. You go back and look at every closer, they probably all have had bad springs."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.