After watching closer candidates flounder all spring, Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t take it anymore. He loved being in that role last season, and while he was publicly supportive of his move to the rotation, he still harbored the desire to close. So much so that he was literally losing sleep over it. He went to his captain and then his manager with his feelings, and the result is yesterday’s surprising-but-not announcement that Papelbon will be the closer.

Gordon Edes has Papelbon hoping that this is his job for the next 10 years. Jeff Horrigan says that now the ones who will be losing sleep will be American League batters. Sean McAdam has more on Papelbon missing being the Red Sox go-to guy in the late innings. Jeff Goldberg has Papelbon himself as the proactive force towards this move being made. Jon Couture says that this move can only work if the other relievers ahead of Papelbon do their job.

Karen Guregian has Papelbon back where he wants to be and back where he belongs. Nick Cafardo says the decision was the logical one, and he gets reaction from the other teams in the AL East on the move. Alex Speier says that the Red Sox insist that this decision was made in a vacuum, with no influences from the outside.

After writing a column in which he said Duke Basketball was the only thing going on in Durham, North Carolina, Steve Buckley got invited by the Durham Bulls to attend a game there after some took offense to his remarks. He’s going to take them up on their offer. David Borges has Craig Breslow trying to come up with a formula to get better command on the mound and thus stay with the big club in the future. Speier has Curt Schilling still making adjustments on the mound as he hits 40.

Edes’ notebook has Tavarez getting a shot to pick up where he left off last season. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Tavarez’s move to the starting rotation, where he might just be keeping the seat warm for Jon Lester. McAdam’s notebook has more on Tavarez getting ready for his new role.

Bruins

The Bruins pretty sealed their playoff-less fate last night with a late collapse against the Montreal Canadiens at the Garden. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins have been a very easy team for opponents to play against this season. Kevin Paul Dupont has this one as just another example of an opportunity lost, which should be a theme of this year’s Bruins squad. Joe McDonald has more on the Bruins season fading fast. Douglas Flynn says that this one might’ve been an exclamation point to close out the season for the Bruins. Bud Barth has the Montreal power play coming alive in the third period to sink the Bruins. Mick Colageo says that it was fun while it lasted last night.

Harris’ Notebook has the Tim Thomas feeling that his teammates have needed to play a little looser all season. Flynn’s notebook says that the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry still has a little spark to it. Dupont’s notebook says that the club likely won’t be getting any of their injured players back before the end of the season. Barth’s notebook has the season coming to a sour end for the Bruins.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett has Paul Pierce OK with Doc Rivers leaving the reserves on the floor while Charlotte stormed back to win the game on Wednesday night. He says it as time to take the training wheels off the youngsters for a bit. Shira Springer has Rivers defending his actions on Wednesday night. Scott Souza has Rivers insisting that everything was on the level for the game.

Jackie MacMullan has a feature on the Dallas Mavericks being ready to take the next step towards becoming NBA champs.

Patriots/Misc

Benjamin Watson just returned from a NFL-USO tour of Iraq, and shared his experience with the media yesterday. Mike Reiss has Watson describing the situation as “real.” John Tomase has the Patriots tight end saying that it was a life-altering trip. Albert Breer also has a very good piece on Watson recounting his trip to the Middle East.

Christopher Price says that Adalius Thomas’ versatility can be traced back to his college days at Southern Miss.

Christopher L. Gasper has NESN throwing a curveball to the local TV stations with their now-infamous memo of last week. Bill Doyle has a look at NESN anchor Kathryn Tappen being able to follow her dream of being a sportscaster.

Bob Ryan looks at USC making a name for themselves in basketball.

Kevin Paul Dupont has UNH trying to shake its label of the University of No Hardware as they hit the NCAA tournament for the six straight year, a feat equaled only by Minnesota and Michigan. UNH is a number one seed and playing in Manchester.

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