WASHINGTON — When Jonathan Papelbon arrived at his first spring training with the Phillies in February, he referred to Mariano Rivera as "the Godfather of closers." He considers Rivera a mentor after their years of competition in the American League East.
Not surprisingly, Papelbon was distraught when asked about the news of the Yankees closer's torn ACL that ended his season.
"It's really hard to even comprehend it. Or talk about it," Papelbon said. "He's someone you obviously respect and have competed against for so many years. You just don't want to see it happen that way. It's hard to even fathom."
Papelbon said Rivera's best piece of advice came during the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. "He told me, 'Pap, no memory. Short memory.'"
Watching Rivera talk about his injury was the most disturbing image, Papelbon said.
"Any human being who has any kind of heart," Papelbon said, "or has been in this game for any period of time — whether it is one day or 20 years — understands where he's coming from and can feel his heart in the interview, man."