CINCINNATI — The Red Sox thought enough of righthander Brandon Workman to weaken their bullpen in April by sending him to Triple A to develop as a starter.
Workman returned in late May and pitched well for five starts. He then dropped his appeal and served a six-game suspension for purposely throwing at Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria during a game on May 30.
The Red Sox let Workman sit 11 days before he made his next start and he has not pitched well since. Now he’s getting another rest.
Workman was bumped from his start against the Reds Wednesday afternoon and replaced by righthander Anthony Ranaudo, who was added to the roster Tuesday.
Workman is not scheduled to pitch again until next week, likely Monday against the Angels.
“The little extra rest should help me. I’ve had a couple of tough ones in a row,” Workman said. “I need to solidify some mechanical issues, too.”
Workman is 0-6 with a 6.35 earned run average in his last six games, five of them starts. He came out of the bullpen in the 19th inning of Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Albert Pujols.
There has been a loss of velocity, too. Workman averaged 93-94 miles per hour with his fastball last season and that has dropped to 90-92 this season.
“It’s not an injury. It’s more of hitting a wall and not being as sharp,” he said.
The Sox believe Workman is feeling the effects of last season. Counting the postseason and his time in the minors, Workman appeared in 37 games and threw 105 innings. He pitched into September and October for the first time in his career.
“Felt like he could use some extended rest,” manager John Farrell said. “Pitching two more months than he’s ever pitched in his life has had some carryover. All things combined, we’re giving him a little bit of a breather. We feel like some added rest can only benefit him.”
The Sox plan not to use Workman in relief during his sabbatical from the rotation.
Ranaudo made his major league debut Aug. 1 against the Yankees, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings. He was the winning pitcher in a 4-3 game and optioned back to Triple A Pawtucket that night.
Ranaudo since has made one start for Pawtucket, allowing four runs on 10 hits over 6⅓ innings against Charlotte Friday. He is 13-4 with a 2.58 earned run average in 22 starts for Pawtucket.
“Definitely a good surprise,” Ranaudo said. “As far as being around the clubhouse, it’s nice to have that first one out of the way. The initial adrenaline and anxiety and anxiousness of getting out there is all behind me. I feel a lot more prepared now going out there.”
Ranaudo, like Workman, is one of the young starting pitchers who saw doors open when the Red Sox traded Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy.
“Absolutely,” he said. “All of us know what’s on the line and the opportunities. We don’t necessarily know how long it’s going to be or when those opportunities are going to come. But when they do come, we know the significance of it.”
Ranaudo will bat ninth on Wednesday. He said his last at-bat came as a senior at St. Rose High in Belmar, N.J., in 2007. He worked on bunting in the batting cage before the game on Monday.
“Hopefully it’ll come back to me,” he said.
The Sox optioned lefthander Edwin Escobar back to Pawtucket to make room for Ranaudo. Escobar was active for one game.
The Reds also made a rotation change and will start righthander Mike Leake instead of Homer Bailey, who has a stiff elbow.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was not in the starting lineup for the fifth time in seven games. He was a defensive replacement in the eighth. The rookie center fielder is hitless in his last 35 at-bats with 17 strikeouts. Of the 151 qualified hitters in the majors, only Cincinnati infielder Zack Cozart (.570) has a lower OPS than Bradley (.571).
Bradley hit .307 with a .358 on-base percentage from June 19 to July 25, but has regressed.
Could the Red Sox send Bradley back to Pawtucket in an attempt to rebuild his confidence?
“That’s part of being in and out of the lineup and trying to balance the work with in-game play,” Farrell said. “[Sending him down] hasn’t yet been bridged with a more direct conversation on whether a change needs to be made. We’re challenged with trying to get him to repeat the swing that we’ve discussed.”
The Red Sox intended to have Yoenis Cespedes play right field and Allen Craig left field when they obtained them via trade on July 31. But Cespedes will stay in left field and Craig will play right when he comes off the disabled list.
“Through conversation with both guys, they’re comfortable with the positions that they play,” Farrell said.
“That’s Yoenis in left and Allen in right. We know the dimensions [at Fenway Park] will have some bearing on our ultimate decision. But I think it’s important for us right now to make sure that they transition in and maintain a lot of that comfort.”
Farrell said any changes likely would be made in spring training.
Craig, who is out with a sprained left foot, has not started taking batting practice on the field but could by the end of the week.
Joe Kelly has two hits in his first two games with the Red Sox. His stolen base in Tuesday’s 3-2 victory was the first for an AL pitcher since Kenny Rogers in 2002 . . . Brock Holt has hit safely in six straight games and nine of his last 10 . . . Dustin Pedroia (1 for 3 with a walk) is 24 of his last 66 (.364) . . . Edward Mujica has gone eight appearances and 6⅔ innings without allowing a run . . . The Red Sox had six hits and drew four walks in Saturday’s 5-4, 19-inning loss against the Angels. According to Stats Inc., the five runners the Sox left on base were the fewest for a team playing 19 or more innings in at least the last 100 years . . . Catcher David Ross, on the DL with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has increased his workload and hopes to start a rehab assignment by the weekend.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.