As he listened to the medical staff dissect his condition, he heard a lot of terms he didn't understand. But most importantly, he didn't hear the dreaded "t" word, as in tear.
"They started reeling off all these doctor terms," said Papelbon. "Subluxation pushing out and this and that, and I tried to pay attention, but obviously you know I didn't go to school to be a doctor. I was listening for 'tear', and I heard no 'tear.' Basically that's all I was worried about, no tear in my rotator and no tear in my labrum."
Will Papelbon pitch again in 2006?
"I'm pretty positive that I will, I'd like to think that I would, yeah," said Papelbon. "But if I can't, I'm not going to push it by any means."
The big thing, as far as the Red Sox are concerned, is that a huge piece of their future doesn't appear to have any sort of long-term injury.
"The news was a huge relief and besides the point of being relieved, I was thrilled," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That was really good news. As far as when he pitches [again], I really couldn't tell you. The first thing to do is to get him strong and get him healthy, and that comes first and foremost. The pitching part will take care of itself."
The rookie closer has been an indispensable member of Boston's bullpen this season, posting a 4-2 record, a 0.92 ERA and 35 saves.
Papelbon had to exit in the ninth inning of last Friday's game against the Blue Jays, after feeling a burning sensation in his shoulder. He hasn't pitched since.
Gill explained what occurred on Friday, and led to Tuesday's diagnosis.
"A subluxation just means a slight slippage forward but it doesn't go out of joint," said Gill. "Classically, it's described as a dead arm period. If you remember, when Pap came off the mound, he dropped his arm and just kind of shook it, and that's kind of a classic symptom of somebody who has had a 'dead arm' from a slight slippage."
The doctor also was confident that Papelbon's condition isn't a sign of future arm problems for the 25-year-old fireballer.
"With appropriate strength and conditioning, it doesn't happen again," Gill said.
Papelbon vowed to do whatever it takes to keep his arm strong and avoid future breakdowns.
"Now, I've got to realize how important my shoulder program and rehab program are day in and day out, and therapy is, and getting with the trainers and staying on my shoulder and making sure that it stays strong throughout the course of the season," said Papelbon.