"It was an all-around leadership void from A to Z," Papelbon said. "From being a vocal leader to being an off-the-field leader to being an on-the-field leader to everything. You can't just point your finger at what type of leadership was missing. It was the whole part of the equation. Our team identity is formed by that leadership."
Last season, after a decorated career in Boston, Papelbon saved 38 games for the Phillies, and finished 5-6 with a 2.44 ERA and 92 strikeouts. Philadelphia, though, finished 81-81, 17 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Papelbon's words were somewhat surprising given the abundance of veterans and All-Stars in the Phillies clubhouse. A former All-Star himself, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Philadelphia, he joined a team that included the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, among others.
Howard and Utley missed time last season with injuries, and Halladay also sat out close to two months.
"[There were] a lot of moving parts," Rollins said. "A lot of new parts coming in. Regulars not being around together those bonds that forms when everybody's together. We didn't have that, unfortunately."
Papelbon said he saw a change at the end of the season. Not surprisingly, it came when Howard, Utley and Halladay all returned from the disabled list. The Phillies went 35-24 after July 31.
"I love this group of guys," Papelbon said. "The way we came together the last month of the season was an awesome sight to see. I think if we can take that into the season we'll be great."
Gonzalez says he passed drug test
Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez says tests for performance-enhancing drugs he was given by Major League Baseball have come back negative.
Gonzalez and other players were listed in a Miami New Times report as receiving performance-enhancing drugs in purported records of a now-closed anti-aging clinic.
Gonzalez said in a brief statement Friday that the players' association informed him that blood and urine tests he was given two days after last month's report came back clean. He says he expected the negative results and reiterated he has never taken any performance-enhancing drugs.
Around the majors
Mets • Johan Santana's first spring training appearance of the year for the New York Mets has been pushed back until mid-March. The left-hander does not have any structural damage in his throwing shoulder, but needs more time to build up strength. "I haven't been on the mound for a while, so it takes time to get everything adjusted again and to get in that pitching mode again," Santana said. "It takes time. It's not a setback at all. It just needs time to build up."
Yankees • Closer Mariano Rivera threw 25 pitches in his first batting practice session since knee surgery last year and said he was happy with the results. "It feels great to be on the mound," said Rivera, who expects to throw BP one or two more times. "Basically, just wanted to see hitters. I'm excited. Build up, and we'll go from there."
March 2-19 • World Baseball Classic
March 31 • Opening day, Texas at Houston; active rosters reduced to 25 players
June 6 • Amateur draft
July 16 • All-Star Game, Citi Field, New York
Oct. 23 • World Series begins