BALTIMORE — From the time he signed with the Red Sox in February, Chris Capuano consumed himself with getting acclimated with every possible detail.
There was his new manager, John Farrell, whose reputation for his Midas touch with pitchers was known throughout baseball.
“Most managers are former position players and maybe don’t understand the psyche of a pitcher and what goes into it,” Capuano said. “I think that’s where he has an advantage.”
There was his new ballpark. He had been to Fenway Park a handful of times growing up in West Springfield, Mass. But the last time he was there, he was a 20-year-old in the Cape Cod League. He spent spring training getting acclimated to the angles at JetBlue Park (a.k.a. Fenway South).
“Never having played in the park and that wall is so close, I’m glad I had a chance in spring training to get used to it,” he said.
Then, there was his new role. The majority of his nine previous major league seasons were spent as a starting pitcher. Even last season, when Capuano began the year in the Dodgers’ bullpen, he ended up making 20 starts.
But when the Sox considered Capuano’s ability to mix his pitches, they envisioned him as a lefthander who could provide starting depth.
So Capuano, 35, focused on embracing a new identity.
“My job — what takes up 90 percent of my mental energy every day — is just trying to really plan my routine, my throwing so I can stay as sharp as possible and be ready to seize any opportunities I get,” Capuano said.
Capuano got the call in the seventh inning Thursday to protect a 4-3 lead. He struck out the Orioles’ No. 9 hitter, Ryan Flaherty, on three pitches and got ground balls out of Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy. His first appearance with the Sox was over in 11 pitches.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in the bullpen,” Capuano said. “I’m still learning how to deal with the mental side of it, trying to stay ready but not get too worn out out there. Trying to learn from the other guys that have been there for longer.”
Farrell was struck by the variety of pitches Capuano threw. He threw his sinker five times, went to his slider three times, kept hitters guessing with two changeups, and flashed his curveball once for good measure.
“He doesn’t let a given hitter sit on any one side of the plate or on any one pitch,” Farrell said. “He’s a veteran and he pitches with a lot of composure and you saw it again tonight.”
On Friday, Capuano will see Fenway Park for the first time in 15 years. His most distinct memory was sitting above the bullpen as a Cape League player, watching former Sox reliever Tom Gordon warm up.
Now, on a team looking to repeat its World Series run, that role is his.
“You just want to be a part of a good team, something special, a great organization,” Capuano said. “Whatever we do, whether or not we go far this year or not, this is really a unique, special place to play.”