A zen-like silence came across the Nats clubhouse as there were only 2 players left. Gio Gonzalez and Jonathan Papelbon have lockers next to each other in the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse, and while they were teammates for 2 months last year, they never really got to know each other. That all changed this year from the 1st day of Spring Training, the pair struck up a bond, that Gio is happy to talk about and really wants people to know about the much misunderstood Jonathan Papelbon. It certainly sounds like a ‘bromance’ as Gio talks about Pap. They are often seen together and hanging out these days, and while some might think they are an ‘odd couple’ it’s the yin to the yang.
There they were (pictured) at the start of workouts for pitchers and catchers almost 2 weeks ago. Gio has been very complimentary of what Papelbon brings to this team in terms of post-season history and his vast baseball knowledge.
These days it’s mostly Papelbon who has been giving advice to anyone who seeks it. Gio says that “Papelbon is the first player to arrive and the last to leave” although you wonder if Gio is checking the stamps on a time card or has first-hand knowledge of the comings and goings of Pap as Gio would have to be the 2nd to arrive and 2nd to last to leave to verify that, but we get the point that Pap is a hard worker and has always had that reputation of working hard and helping out other pitchers whenever anyone has asked. Gio has even called Jonathan Papelbon the nearest he has seen to “a player-coach”, and that’s just part of the high opinion that Gio Gonzalez has of Jonathan Papelbon.
Here is just some of what Gio had to say, “I think it was a blessing having Pap by my side. He’s actually helping out too with my mechanics. Where he saw little things when I was warming up. In fact, he’s the one who grabbed me and told me he was going to work on my mechanics. You don’t get that too much in the game. Not too many people actually want to spend more time and try to pick your brain and help you out. Pap, he’s almost like a player-coach.”
Yesterday we posted up comments from Gio about Mike Maddux and how he has helped Gio with his mechanics by focusing on the target as Gio has a habit of not getting his head around and looking at his catcher through the last split seconds of his delivery. Gio didn’t elaborate on what Papelbon has helped him with so we actually don’t know more than the quote itself.
Jonathan Papelbon and Gio Gonzalez throw their first bullpen session at #Nats spring… https://t.co/CeDezqBK0C pic.twitter.com/cuk0tqtyVa
— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) February 21, 2016
Gio continued his thoughts on Papelbon, “Where you can sit there and talk all day long and pick [Papelbon’s] brain. Everything he says is the truth, in baseball terms. He’s been around for so long. The guy has a World Series title, a championship ring. One of the best closers in the game, by far. He’s the last one in the clubhouse, first one there. The guy works his tail off.”
Gio finished talking about Papelbon and didn’t need to mention the incident with Bryce Harper, but instead just referred to ‘stuff off the field, or on the field’ in putting that aside as it seems Gio has made his own opinions and really likes his teammate and thinks he is great for the organization and the team.
As Gio continued about Papelbon, “Pap is a good teammate. A lot of people in this clubhouse appreciate Pap. He is well liked. A personality like his is needed in this clubhouse. Pap is a veteran presence, and grew up in a time when that era of player is disappearing. You want those guys around. I root for Pap. Everyone has their own dreams and goals and ways to achieve them. It’s a long road for all of us. What I love about Pap is he is not going to sugarcoat anything. He is going to tell you how it is. That is the way he was taught.”
“When I was coming up with Oakland, I had guys like Frank Thomas, Eric Chavez, guys who had been taught the right way to play baseball. It comes from a good heart. It’s not with the intention to bring anyone down. It’s positive. I like talking to Pap every day.”
“He wants to be a team guy. I put everything else aside from what happened and all that stuff off the field, or on the field, or whatever happened there. As a locker teammate, he’s incredible. Understanding his personality, I think he’s great for the organization. Great for the team and he’s fun to have all the time.”
“It’s the people that say it behind your back that are the ones you gotta worry about. That’s what I love about Pap. He’ll tell you how he feels and without any intentions of hurting you. He wants to help you and I think that’s what he’s been doing with me as my throwing partner, as my lockermate. He’s been showing me that you can have fun in this game without taking it seriously or taking it personal. I think that’s his presence. I love that he’s in our locker room.”
This could be the best part of the quotes from Gio Gonzalez about Jonathan Papelbon:
“He’s going to be our closer and definitely save our butts a lot this year. He really wants the best for…all of us, a World Series Championship!”
Papelbon could be the yin to Gio’s yang. This yin-yang philosophy makes a lot of sense if you believe in the power of opposites. Steve M. once discussed the need for 180º polar opposites in assembling a coaching staff and this could also work for teammates which is why Gio and Papelbon get along so well. When you go polar opposite, you do it in a way where opposites attract in a yin-yang type of philosophy. If you don’t know what that is, yin-yang describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary in ancient Chinese culture.