"It's just basically a soreness that I wasn't comfortable with throwing; I felt like it could create more injury," he said. "Instead of missing 30 or 40 or 50 games, I decided it would be best for my team and my career to maybe sit one out."
The man who signed Papelbon to a record $50 million contract, the largest in baseball history for a relief pitcher, stood by his closer's decision not to pitch.
"He's just like anybody else, he's got some mileage and we have to keep an eye out on these guys, make sure they're good to go," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "If we risk having him not pitch one game so he can pitch 30 more, that's what we're going to do."
Papelbon was available to pitch last night and both Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg said it's not an injury the team needs to monitor. Amaro said it was back-related.
Sandberg was asked whether he expected to have Papelbon available for three straight games moving forward.
"Yeah, I sure hope so," Sandberg said. "That's his job."
Papelbon was bombarded with questions while standing at his locker stall before pregame batting practice.
He said he wasn't exactly sure when the back pain started - he guessed it might have been related to the turf in Toronto - and he said it didn't feel better until he woke up yesterday. He also said, had it been a playoff game, he would have found a way to the mound.
"Yeah, I would have probably gotten maybe [an anti-inflammatory] shot and said, 'Screw it,' " Papelbon said. "But it's not a postseason game. So, I didn't."
The Phillies recalled infielder Cesar Hernandez from Double A Reading. He will be available to play second base, shortstop and third base. The 23-year-old began the season with the Phillies, but was sent to Double A in mid-April so he could continue to get reps on the left side of the infield; Hernandez is a natural second baseman.
The Phillies' infield reserves have undergone a complete turnover in the span of three games: Freddy Galvis was optioned (and then hurt in Triple A Lehigh Valley) and Jayson Nix was outrighted off the 40-man roster and yesterday opted for free agency. Veteran Reid Brignac was added to the bench on Friday.
"We didn't feel comfortable with the mix," Amaro said. "We'll make changes to try to make it better."
Does he regret parting ways with Kevin Frandsen before the end of spring training?
"Not at all," Amaro said. "No."
Galvis, who was hitting .048 (2-for-42) in 16 games with the Phillies, will undergo surgery after fracturing his left clavicle. He was hurt Sunday in Allentown, when he collided with IronPigs third baseman Maikel Franco when both converged on a foul ball down the third-base line.
"It's going to be a long time, unfortunately," Amaro said of Galvis' recovery time.
With 2 days off this week, the Phils are shuffling their rotation by skipping fifth starter Roberto Hernandez' scheduled turn. After A.J. Burnett pitches today against the Angels, Kyle Kendrick and Cole Hamels will follow on Friday and Saturday, respectively, against Cincinnati. Hernandez may not start again until May 23, as the Phils can throw their first four starters on regular rest until then . . . Ruben Amaro Jr. said Darin Ruf's current rehab with Triple A Lehigh Valley is scheduled to run through Saturday.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21