FORT MYERS, Fla. — The pressure was a little less intense Thursday than when Boston Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman last took the mound, during the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. You’d never know it listening to the 25-year-old after his two innings against Northeastern University.
“Honestly, not as much as you’d think,” Workman said of the difference in intensity between last October and Thursday’s spring training exhibition. “The first one of the year, I definitely had some adrenaline going. I was excited to be back out there and get started again for this year.”
Workman enters 2014 on the heels of a very productive 2013 campaign in which he made an impact at the major league level despite beginning the year at Double-A Portland. Workman was used in high-leverage situations several times late last season, even tossing 8 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs.
“I definitely believe in myself,” Workman said of the confidence he gained in 2013. “(But) to have some success last year and then, like you said, in the World Series definitely helps that. But I’ve always kind of had confidence about me, so it definitely helps.”
Workman made his major league debut against the Seattle Mariners on July 10 last season. He turned heads in his first big league start, when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics on July 14. Workman made two more starts the rest of the season before switching to the bullpen and showed tremendous composure in both roles.
“I think it’s a tribute to the focus and the concentration that he’s gained a reputation of coming through the system — what he showed last year in the two different roles in which he pitched,” Farrell said Thursday. “Today, he comes out, he attacks the strike zone and showed a good breaking ball.”
Workman tossed two scoreless innings against Northeastern on Thursday, allowing one hit and striking out two. The right-hander said after his outing he was pleased with his fastball command but that he’ll look to continue to sharpen his pitches, particularly his secondary stuff, throughout the rest of spring training.
Workman’s success last season makes him a solid candidate to begin the year in the Red Sox’s bullpen, but there’s plenty of competition standing in his way. The Red Sox acquired relievers Edward Mujica and Burke Badenhop over the offseason, and the club signed lefty swingman Chris Capuano early in camp.
“We have a lot of great players on this team, obviously, in the rotation and in the bullpen, so it’s definitely a tough team to make,” Workman said. “But I’ve just got to keep taking care of my business and going out and throwing the ball as well as I can every day.”
Workman showed last year he has major league ability. The young pitcher picked up where he left off Thursday.