Papelbon Back To Closer

Friday, March 23rd 2007, 9:20 am
By: News On 6

UNDATED (AP) _ After working as a starting pitcher this spring, Jonathan Papelbon is returning to his familiar role as the Boston Red Sox closer.

The Red Sox were without a closer after an injury to Mike Timlin.

Papelbon is coming off a sensational rookie season in which he had 35 saves and an ERA of 0.92.

The 41-year-old Timlin has a strained side muscle and won't be ready to start the season.

With Papelbon going back to the pen, Julian Tavarez becomes Boston's fifth starter.

In other spring training news:

-- AL batting champ Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins has a stress reaction in his left leg. The Twins describe the injury as a precursor to a stress fracture. The injury was located after Mauer complained of soreness in the leg. He's out until Sunday.

-- The Atlanta Braves and catcher Brian McCann have come to terms on a six-year, $26.8 million contract. The 23-year-old, who has less than two years of big league experience, hit a team high .333 last season with 24 home runs and 93 runs batted in.

-- LA Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal sprained his left ankle in the 1st inning of Thursday's exhibition game with Baltimore. Dodgers center-fielder Jason Repko also had to leave the game, after straining his left hamstring while diving for a ball in the 3rd inning.

-- The Washington Nationals have decided to purchase the contracts of two players, 2nd baseman Ronnie Belliard and utility player Robert Fick, virtually assuring that both will be on the Nats' 25-man roster when they break camp.

-- New York Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez says he felt a pop in his right shoulder while throwing in a bullpen session. It was his first such session since shoulder surgery last year. Sanchez says he didn't feel significant pain during or after the pitch.