Alex Wilson Growing Comfortable With Transition To Relieving After Turning Heads As Starter

Alex Wilson Growing Comfortable With Transition To Relieving After Turning Heads As StarterPAWTUCKET, R.I. — Alex Wilson always anticipated the switch.

Named Boston's minor league pitcher of the year in 2011 — as a starting pitcher — Wilson knew there was a possibility the Red Sox organization could slide him back to the bullpen, where he starred at Texas A&M.

But he never expected it this soon. With the Red Sox bullpen floundering in April, the Pawtucket Red Sox quickly converted Wilson into a reliever, hoping to accelerate his progress to the big leagues.

These days, though, the Red Sox's bullpen has turned the tide and evolved into one of the team's strengths. Even so, Wilson is enjoying the change in his career.

"It seemed like it might be a quicker track to the [big leagues]," Wilson said of relieving. "But I'm completely comfortable down there and I think it's a good spot for me. I think my stuff plays well there and I'm actually a guy that can get loose really quick, so it's been an easy transition."

Last season, Wilson turned heads with his performance, compiling a 10-4 record with a 3.11 ERA in 25 combined starts in Portland and Pawtucket. Before this season started, Wilson expressed his desire to compete for a starting spot in Boston's staff.

After a brief dalliance with the major-league club in spring training, Wilson was optioned back to Triple-A. At the time, Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett directed the 25-year-old to continue sharpening his changeup.

Then, three starts into the season, the plan changed completely on Wilson. In the beginning of the transition, he encountered some obstacles as he adjusted to pitching at any given moment in any given game.

"The first couple weeks kind of zapped me real quick," Wilson said. "I think I was just anxious to throw as much as I could — or as much as they'd let me. I was figuring out the lifting schedule, throwing and it all kind of came together at once and I feel really good."

It had been four years since Wilson, then a collegiate junior, last emerged from the bullpen. Despite the long layoff, he's been lights out for the PawSox, going 5-2 with a 3.25 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 26 appearances.

"For me personally, I looked at it as an opportunity, took it and ran with it," Wilson said. "I think in the long run, I had a feeling it might happen at some point. It wasn't something I had done in awhile, but I enjoyed the challenge."

With a bevy of bullpen arms and the trade deadline looming, the Red Sox could be poised to deal their relievers. If that's case, Wilson could be knocking on the door of a promotion very shortly.

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