Not that they need a household name in that role. Theo Epstein: "It's too early to start assigning exact roles other than to say that the guys who are pitching the best will have the most important roles."
Epstein on WEEI yesterday:
The determination we made in September when he had the subluxation was a medical determination based on the way his shoulder looked at the time that certainly he had a much better chance of returning to health and maintaining good health through a starter's routine -- building up strength in the shoulder, only having to pitch once every five or six days, getting on a shoulder strengthening program between starts and being able to have a very regimented maintenance routine.In addition to his shoulder, I believe the Red Sox believe that Papelbon is a greater asset to the team as a starter.
That certainly is the best way to attack this specific condition. He's already started that. He's had a fantastic winter so far with the shoulder and it's really strong.
The single most important thing is his long-term health and as long as that determination is still valid -- as long as the medical people think that condition would be best-served with a once-every-five-days routine -- then he's going to be a starting pitcher.
I guess it's fair to say, "Never say never." We want to take a look at Jonathan again and will examine him again soon and examine the condition of his shoulder. But I think we really can't go wrong. As a starter, which is what we groomed him to be, I think he has a really high upside. And obviously everyone saw what he could do as a closer last year -- one of the best in baseball.
We can't go wrong. We just can't get greedy. We have to let what's best for his long-term picture determine the decision.