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Workman relishing rotation role after making mark in Boston as reliever

April 18, 2014

Brandon Workman, pictured throwing in a late-season game last year for Boston, is back with the PawSox and back in a starting role. (Photo courtesy Keith Allison/Flickr)

PAWTUCKET – Rarely do you hear “versatility” and “pitcher” mentioned in the same breath.

According to PawSox manager Kevin Boles, the adjective perfectly sums up a promising Red Sox pitcher who last year earned high marks due to his ability to gracefully swing back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen.

For the time being, Brandon Workman is no longer viewed as an interchangeable swingman. He now takes the ball once every five days for Pawtucket and quiet frankly, the 25-year-old is thrilled to be included in the rotation mix.

“It’s nice to be in a routine and know when I’m throwing. I can set my workouts accordingly,” Workman stated Friday afternoon not long after tossing a bullpen session at McCoy Stadium. “I’m more comfortable with starting because I’ve done that my whole life, so, yeah, I enjoy that more.”

Added Boles, “I think having a set plan, it’s definitely beneficial. There’s a lot of value as far as out of the bullpen and as a starting pitcher with him.”

Workman’s return to his preferred call of duty came this past Wednesday night in Rochester. Originally, he was supposed to take the mound Monday night, but was pushed to the following night. That game ended up getting washed out with Wednesday marking Workman’s first appearance of any kind at any level in eight days.

Optioned to the minors on April 9, Workman lasted 3.1 innings against the Red Wings, tossing 38 of his 62 pitches for strikes while allowing three runs. According to Boles, the plan was to cap Workman at 65 pitches for his first extended outing of 2014.

“The linescore is not indicative of the way he pitched,” noted Boles. “He had really good command and got to his pitch count.”

Life on the diamond in 2013 was a bit of a blur for Workman. He opened the year in Double-A Portland and in the same rotation as Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton and Matt Barnes. By summertime, he found himself in the major leagues, but not in the capacity that had become second nature to him.

With the Red Sox set for starting pitchers, the organization shifted Workman to the bullpen. The move worked out as Boston got a hard-throwing and dependable late-game option and Workman got to stay with the parent club through the World Series.

To go from pitching in Portland’s Hadlock Field to pitching in Game Six of the World Series in Fenway Park, it was quite the ride for Workman, who made 27 relief appearances for Boston during the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that that prior to this season, Workman had made 67 starts in 68 appearances in the minors.

“Last year was my first time pitching in relief, but it was an easy transition for me. I feel that whether it’s throwing in the first inning or coming into games later on, it’s about making pitches when you need to and executing the game plan,” said Workman. “Last year was as perfect of a call-up season as you can imagine. Everything just fell into place and was almost perfect.”

Boles managed Workman in Portland during the past two seasons. The skipper expanded on why Workman’s versatility is a huge boon for the youngster.

“It definitely applies to him and that’s a credit to his ability to adjust to all different roles. That’s something that’s impressive,” praised Boles. “I wouldn’t pass anything pass him. No matter what time the game is or what the situation is, he’s going to compete and you now he’s going to be effective. Nothing fazes him.”

Workman is scheduled to make his second start for the PawSox on Monday. With this week’s scare regarding Koji Uehara, he was asked if his ears perked up upon hearing that a trip to the disabled list was possible for the Red Sox closer. If that proved to be the case, it would have meant that Workman would have been back with Boston … as a reliever.

“I try not to think about that because it’s out of my hands. I’m just trying to focus on getting ready to make my next start here,” said Workman. “Whether anything other than that happens, I try not to spend much time thinking about it.”

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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