PHILADELPHIA -- When closer Jonathan Papelbon came up through the Boston organization, then general manager Theo Epstein thought of the hard-throwing righty as a starter. The only problem was that's not how Papelbon viewed himself.
Papelbon worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning of the Phillies' 5-2 win over the Padres on Tuesday night to record his 300th career save. Papelbon reached the milestone in just 552 games -- matching Trevor Hoffman for second-fastest to do so all time. Papelbon, who has not allowed an earned run in 22 of his 23 appearances, is the 26th closer in MLB history to reach the 300 saves plateau, tying Jason Isringhausen and Bruce Sutter for 24th on the all-time list.
"It means a lot to me, more than what most people would probably think," Papelbon said. "I started this a long time ago and I was supposed to be a starter. It's been a long journey since then. I don't know how happy he was when I told him I wanted to do that, but it's all turned out the way I expected it and hoped it would. I got to keep working hard and keep putting in the work to stay healthy, and hopefully try to get another 300 if I stay healthy.
"I've been able to take care of my body and take care of my arm, and do the things to stay healthy. I've been fortunate enough to stay off the DL for my entire career. Knowing that and knowing when you need a day off, and knowing when to push it, is a big key. The closer is a volatile role and I knew that going into it."
Aware of his place in history, Papelbon has no intentions of stopping and knows full well, after starting his career in Boston, who sits atop the saves list. That would be former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, with 652.
"Well you know, the closer's role is what it is today because of Mariano Rivera," Papelbon said. "There is no other man that is solely responsible for it but him. In my opinion, he made the role what it is today and I've told him many a time that he's the godfather of all closers. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in this type of situation today.
"When I was in Boston, I used to joke with him all the time. He'd come back for another year and play and it seemed like he had some kind of fountain of youth over there in Panama. He made it harder and harder for me every year. Everyone's chasing him so hopefully one day I can get somewhere close to him, and we'll see what happens if I can stay healthy."
Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.