Via Joy of Sox:
Papelbon finds closing’s a grind
As Red Sox players were milling about the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon, Jonathan Papelbon was hunched over a table in the middle of the room, pressing the side of his head against a hot pack.
The right-hander would have the hot pack pressed against one side of his head for a few minutes, and then switch it to the other side.
The reason Papelbon has been using the hot packs is to relieve some of the pain being caused by teeth-grinding, which had never been a problem for the Sox’ relief ace before this season.
And while Papelbon has appeared to be pressure-free as he eases into his new role as a big league closer, he believes the teeth-grinding may be “stress-related.”
Speaking before last night’s game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park, Papelbon said, “I think it’s more just a self-conscious thing where I’m not really able to quit doing it. I’m doing it self-consciously and I think it’s a little bit stress-related, maybe.
“But it’s getting better and better. Obviously, as time goes on, I’m starting to learn how to cope with it and lessen the pain.”
Papelbon, 25, made his major league debut last July 31 against the Minnesota Twins. He appeared in 17 games in 2005, posting a 3-1 record and 2.65 ERA.
This season he emerged from spring training as the team’s closer, and was 0-1 with a 0.44 ERA in 19 appearances heading into last night. He is 13-for-13 in save situations.
Papelbon says he’s not sure if the teeth-grinding is baseball-related, noting that he started doing it before the season started.
“I started doing it before spring training, at home during the offseason,” he said. “I think it’s just one of those things, just one of those things that just happened.
“Some days are worse than others. A lot of times I’m not able to sleep at night. I’m still thinking about baseball. I’m not letting everything go during the day.”
My fiancee's a sleep-grinder, but it doesn't seem to affect him as much during the day as this. He doesn't do it while he's awake, either. But even so, I know from experience that grinding of this nature can be really nasty. Think of scraping a fork across a plate--that's the sound of it. And for someone to just start spontaneously doing this, consciously...that's some stress right there, my friends.