CINCINNATI -- Earlier in his career, during several of his initial All-Star experiences in the mid-2000s, Jonathan Papelbon recalls huddling with Mariano Rivera and some of the game's other top closers. He picked their brains, eager to extract any nuggets of wisdom he could find.
"Speak of the devil," Papelbon said Tuesday, nodding to a clubhouse television. Replays of Rivera were flashing across the screen.
These days, Rivera is retired, his presence in big league clubhouses confined to such video reels. But Papelbon is still kicking as one of the game's best closers, despite going unused in the National League's 6-3 loss to the American League in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile at Great American Ball Park. Papelbon may not wish to continue playing for the Phillies, as he stated in no uncertain terms during Monday's All-Star media day. But his 1.60 ERA and 14-for-14 record in save situations prove he still has plenty left to give at age 34 -- in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
He's one of the old guys now, one of the Riveras, older than all but six of the 76 players on this year's All-Star rosters. Papelbon's six All-Star appearances matched Francisco Rodriguez and Ryan Braun for the second-most of anyone in the NL clubhouse, so he felt like he had something to offer.
"Of course you want to come in to pitch, make it feel worthwhile, you know?" Papelbon said.
Yet not pitching, Papelbon said, hardly ruined his experience, considering he had appeared in four of his previous five All-Star Games, striking out five batters over 3 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. He considered this week in Cincinnati just as worthwhile. If Papelbon is indeed traded and this winds up being his last All-Star Game as a Phillie, he'll remember it for the conversations he had and the wisdom he imparted to those younger than he -- so much of it garnered from the Riveras of the world over a career's worth of All-Star Games.
"Those are some of the top experiences that I'll remember the most," Papelbon said of his talks with the NL's other top relievers. "I give them the best advice I can give, whatever the subject or topic may be."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.