WASHINGTON -- Jonathan Papelbon happened to be flipping through the channels on the TV in his hotel room Thursday night when he saw the crawl at the bottom of the screen.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had suffered a major knee injury.
"It's kind of hard to put it into words," Papelbon said before Friday's series opener against the Nationals at Nationals Park. "I've always said that he's the godfather of this role. It's just tough to see your leader, your ... your ..."
"Your idol," he said. "It's really hard to even comprehend it. Or talk about it. He's someone you obviously respect and have competed against for so many years. You just don't want to see it happen that way."
Rivera told reporters Friday he planned to rehab from knee surgery to try to finish his career on the mound, not on the warning track in Kansas City. That will be good news for Papelbon, who considers Rivera a mentor, despite the fact they competed for years when Papelbon pitched for the Boston Red Sox.
Papelbon watched video of Rivera's knee buckling on the warning track, and the disturbed reaction from Alex Rodriguez, who watched it happen behind the batting cage. But that wasn't the worst part for Papelbon.
"To me, the most disturbing thing was to see him try to answer questions about what was happening, you could just see the wheels turning in his mind, you could see the fear, the unknown, all of those things," he said. "Any human being who has any kind of heart, or has been in this game for any period of time, whether it's one day or 20 years, understands where he's coming from, and can feel his heart in the interview, man. It's hard not to."
Papelbon has told the story before about how Rivera influenced his career when they first spoke at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, but it is worth repeating one more time, considering the severity of Rivera's injury.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm not going to try to pick your brain, but if you can give me one thing, one thing I can take with me,'" Papelbon said. "He told me, 'Pap, no memory. Short memory.' At first I was like, 'What?' I thought he was talking about scouting reports or something like that. But then I realized he meant you can't remember that great game you had last night, or the bad game you had last night. For a closer, every day is a new day, you have to be able to turn that page real quick, and move on and be able to go out and give your team a chance that following night."
Halladay returns from personal leave
WASHINGTON -- Roy Halladay rejoined the Phillies on Friday at Nationals Park.
Halladay had left the team following Wednesday's game in Atlanta in order to attend to a personal family matter. Halladay threw his scheduled bullpen session in the afternoon, and is scheduled to make his next start Monday, against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
Utley to have knee examined Saturday in DC
WASHINGTON -- Chase Utley is expected to rejoin the team Saturday, but he hopes the stay is only temporary.
After Utley gets his left knee examined by the team's medical staff, he could head to Cleawater, Fla., to continue his rehab. The Phillies have not put a timetable on Utley's return to the lineup, but it would not be a surprise to see him back before the middle of June.
Utley has been rehabbing his knee in Phoenix since the beginning of the season.
Manuel shakes up lineup for series opener
WASHINGTON -- Charlie Manuel tried a new lineup for Friday's game against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
He had Placido Polanco hit third for the first time this season.
"What's interesting about that?" Manuel said. "I hit him third before quite a bit. Go look."
Manuel explained he wanted Polanco hitting third because he had a double against Strasburg in two career at-bats, and because he wanted to put contact hitters high in the lineup, since Strasburg does not allow a lot of home runs.
"I wanted Victorino in the fifth hole to find some balance with my lefties," Manuel said. "I have a lefty in front of [Carlos Ruiz], and a lefty behind him. Trying to get some contact on the board."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.