Papelbon considers pinstripes

The hearts of Red Sox Nation sank last week when closer Jonathan Papelbon said on Sirius XM Radio that he could envision playing for the New York Yankees someday.

“Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall,” Papelbon said.

He added: “Not only the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind, because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh, I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career,’ because nowadays that is very, very rare, and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform.

“But I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted.”

Bottom line: Papelbon is signed through 2011, so Red Sox fans have time before commencing panic in the streets.

HAS LOU GONE SOFT? — Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella recently responded to criticism that he needs to show more fire to inspire his scuffling team.

“What do I need to show fire for? I’m not a dragon,” he said. “If I was out there arguing all the time, they would be saying, ‘Well, this guy has lost his cool.’

“Look, I still want to win. I still have it in my belly. I think the players obviously know that.

“… The players play on the field. And our job is to prepare them and keep them as motivated as possible.

“I was reading an article just a week ago about Phil Jackson and Joe Torre, how calm and cool they are and how successful they are. … I don’t think by me going out there and kicking dirt and doing those things is going to get anybody fired up to play baseball.”

At least he got fired up for the question.

FACE MADE FOR TV — As the sports world grapples with its first week of Kobe Bryant withdrawal, Bryant suggested on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” a way to keep his face on television year-round.

“I could come be an anchor on ‘SportsCenter,’ ” Bryant quipped. “My puppet already got the head start — me and LeBron (James), both sitting up there. We got a head start on our careers after basketball.”

NOT IN PENNSYLVANIA, KOBE — Newsstands in 49 of 50 states featured Bryant on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated.

In Pennsylvania, SI went with the local angle — a photo of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby hoisting the Stanley Cup.

CADDIE-SHTICK — From David Letterman‘s “Top 10 Signs Your Caddie Is Nuts”:

— Replaces your 7-iron with a garden weasel.

— Spends afternoon sipping mojitos in the sand trap.

— He’s the only caddie on skates.

— Likes to pick up divots, put them on his head and say, “Welcome to ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ “

— Pimped golf cart to hop up and down.

— Says he needs weekends off.

— Using bag to stow beers for John Daly.


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