After rest, Papelbon available for Phillies

After rest, Papelbon available for Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said Tuesday afternoon that he was available to pitch, if needed.

He had told Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg on Sunday morning at Citi Field that he could not pitch because of soreness in his neck and back. The bullpen proceeded to blow a three-run lead in the ninth inning and eventually the game, which dropped the Phillies to 17-19.

Papelbon initially blamed his unavailability Sunday on the fact he warmed up a few times before entering games Friday and Saturday, which raised a few eyebrows inside the clubhouse. As a result, Cole Hamels threw a career-high 133 pitches, Roberto Hernandez pitched in relief after throwing 99 pitches in a start Friday and the Phillies lost an opportunity to pull back to .500.

Papelbon said he had no regrets and that he had pitched with soreness before, adding that this was different.

"It's just basically a soreness that I wasn't comfortable throwing," he said Tuesday. "I felt like it could create more injury. Instead of missing 30 or 40 or 50 games, I decided it would be best for my team and my career to maybe sit one out."

Papelbon warmed up twice Friday before entering the game and picking up a save in a 3-2 victory in 11 innings. He warmed up once Saturday before entering the game and earning his 11th save in a 5-4 victory.

Is that an excessive amount of warm-ups?

"It was not excessive," Sandberg said. "Nobody ever, they don't complain about being up and down in a situation like that when it's extra innings. Not when you're talking ninth inning and it goes to 11, you could be up twice. That could happen tonight very easily. There's a way to go about that where it's not straining."

"No, that's just the norm," Papelbon said.

Paplebon said Tuesday he may have started to feel bad last week in Toronto because of the artificial turf there, though the position players played under the same conditions for nine innings.

The good news for the Phillies was that Hamels said he felt fine after throwing 133 pitches and said an extra day of rest before his next start should benefit him.

Asked if teammates were OK with Papelbon's unavailability Sunday and explanation, Hamels said: "We're fine with him. He's probably one of the best teammates you could have. I think it's hard for people to see that and understand that unless they actually play the game and are with them. He wants to pitch. Every once in a while stuff happens, and your body reacts a certain way some days and you don't know why. You need a day off to not stress it. We know him pretty well. We know his character. He wants to pitch. He wants to close games."

But going forward, is Papelbon a player who can go three consecutive days?

"I sure hope so," Sandberg said. "That's his job."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.