KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saturday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell put rookie righthander Brandon Workman into a pressure situation in the fifth inning against the Royals, asking him to protect a two-run lead with two runners on base and no outs.
On Sunday afternoon, rookie lefthander Drake Britton was tossed into a tough spot. He came out of the bullpen in the eighth inning to face the heart of the Kansas City order with the Sox down by a run.
Both did their jobs. Workman allowed one of the inherited runners to score but ended the inning with the Sox still ahead. Britton loaded the bases but escaped the jam.
Farrell said it’s not a matter of testing his 24-year-old pitchers. They’re the best relievers he has for those spots. In the revamped Red Sox bullpen, Britton and Workman are important arms.
“Honestly I can say for sure one thing that’s not in my mind when they’re coming in is to see how they’re going to do,” Farrell said. “It’s, ‘We need you to do well given where we are.’ I don’t think we’re in that phase of trying a guy out in a certain spot. They’re in there because that’s who we feel is the best matchup.”
Britton has a 2.08 earned run average and 1.08 WHIP in 10 appearances, all in relief. Workman has started three times and relieved three times. He has a 4.78 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
Both were starters in the minors but have undertaken a different role with the Sox. Farrell said they have adapted well to getting warmed up quickly and handling multiple appearances over the course of five days.
“Bottom line is you have to pitch no matter what the role is,” Britton said. “Get ahead, throw strikes. Once you’re on the mound, it’s the same.”
Workman hadn’t come into a game with runners on base since his sophomore year at the University of Texas.
“I didn’t think too much about it,” he said. “You have to throw the pitch the catcher wants you to throw. That was all I really thought about.”
As the season goes on, the situations will only get more important.
“It’s fun for us,” Britton said. “You want to be here pitching big innings.”
Daniel Nava occasionally can be spotted pulling a small sheet of paper out of his back pocket while he stands in the outfield. What’s he up to?
It’s a cheat sheet. Nava keeps a list of where he should position himself in the outfield for each Red Sox pitcher. It’s a way to make sure he’s in the right spot.
“Just something I do to remind myself,” Nava said. “If a different pitcher comes in, I might need to change a little.”
The Red Sox have put a high priority on defensive positioning this season and Nava is trying to stay with the program. Maybe that’s why baseball uniforms have pockets.
More rehab for Ross
David Ross caught four innings for Double A Portland and had three plate appearances in the second game of his rehabilitation assignment.
Ross reached on catcher’s interference, walked, and doubled in a game against Bowie. He is scheduled to play for Triple A Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium Tuesday.
Ross, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a concussion, is eligible to be activated Saturday. But Farrell said the Sox will wait until Aug. 19 in San Francisco, barring any setbacks.
The plan is for Ross to catch consecutive games for Pawtucket later this week.
The Royals made some roster moves before the game. Miguel Tejada (right calf strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list and infielder Irving Falu was recalled from Triple A Omaha.
Catcher Salvador Perez was activated off the seven-day concussion DL and righthander Wade Davis was reinstated from the family emergency list. Lefthanded reliever Donnie Joseph was optioned to Omaha and catcher Brett Hayes was designated for assignment. Hayes started two games in the series.
Falu may not stick around long. Once the game was over, the Royals announced they had obtained infielder Jamey Carroll from the Twins for a player to be named or cash.
Carroll was hitting .230 for the Twins with a .546 OPS.
Mike Napoli struck out three times and now has 155 on the season. That’s the fifth-most in a season in franchise history. Only Mark Bellhorn (177 in 2004), Jason Bay (162 in 2009), Butch Hobson (162 in 1977), and Tony Armas (156 in 1984) have had more. Napoli is on a pace for 209 . . . Clay Buchholz threw before the game and is scheduled for a bullpen session in Toronto Tuesday. Barring any complications, that could clear him for a simulated game later in the week . . . Jonny Gomes drew a walk as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. He has reached base safely in 13 of 23 plate appearances as a pinch hitter this season . . . After the Rays pulled a hidden-ball trick to get an out against the Dodgers Saturday, Farrell was asked whether the Red Sox have any plays like that. “If I told you it wouldn’t be hidden,” he said . . . The Sox fell to 47-11 when scoring first . . . The Red Sox were 2-5 against Kansas City this season and now trail in the all-time series, 223-221.