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Red Sox Notebook

One pitch at a time, Red Sox reliever Brennan Bernardino worked his way to the majors on a path like no other

Brennan Bernardino has allowed just one earned run in 8 ⅔ innings this season.Winslow Townson/Getty

ATLANTA — That Brennan Bernardino has become a valuable member of the Red Sox bullpen this season is unexpected.

That the 31-year-old lefthander is in the major leagues at all is something of a miracle.

“I always thought to myself that it was a matter of time until I made it,” he said. “But it was a lot of time.”

Bernardino didn’t play baseball for his first three seasons at Valencia (Calif.) High School. The only reason he did as a senior was because he got kicked off the basketball team.

“I got in trouble at school,” he said, declining to elaborate. “But the baseball coach didn’t think I deserved it so he let me play. But I didn’t pitch that much.”


Bernardino decided to keep trying but was cut from the team at College of the Canyons. He switched to another junior college, Los Angeles Mission, and played two seasons.

That led Bernardino to Cal State-Dominguez Hills, a Division 2 team. His first season was lost to shoulder surgery, then he went 5-0 with a 1.59 earned run average for a team that finished 23-26.

The Reds took Bernardino in the 26th round of the 2014 draft. He was released in 2018 and signed with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association.

The next step was an independent team in Mexico, where Bernardino pitched well enough to sign with Cleveland. That lasted five appearances then it was back to Mexico.

“I basically made ends meet financially by playing in Mexico,” Bernadino said. “Thank God for winter ball, that kept me afloat.”

Through it all, he never pondered a career outside of baseball.

“Never crossed my mind,” he said. “I have high faith in God. I felt like if there was a time I needed to quit, he’d send me a sign. I never got that sign.”


Bernardino made his breakthrough during the 2021-22 winter ball season. He was a key reliever for Jalisco as the Charros won the Mexican Winter League title and went on to the Caribbean World Series.

“That was big for me,” Bernardino said. “I thought if I could succeed at that level I could pitch in the majors.”

The Mariners took notice and signed Bernardino before the 2022 season. He pitched well in Triple A and was called up in July for two games.

Bernardino was optioned to Triple A in March and designated for assignment in April. The Red Sox claimed him on April 16 and Bernardino was called up eight days later after making only one appearance for Triple A Worcester.

Bernardino has appeared in seven games this season and allowed one earned run on seven hits over 8 ⅔ innings with one walk and six strikeouts.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

“We needed another lefty and he throws strikes,” manager Alex Cora said. “The guy competes.”

Bernardino got his first major league win on April 29. Cora paused the clubhouse celebration to present Bernardino with the lineup card then spoke to the team about his road to get to that point.

“He had some really nice things to say. It was awesome that he did that,” Bernardino said. “Him noticing my journey meant a lot to me.”

Bernardino has appeared in seven games and allowed one earned run on seven hits over 8 ⅔ innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

The Sox like that he throws a sinker/slider combination from a lower arm slot than usual. It’s a different look they can exploit.


“Playing for the Sox and in Fenway Park is baseball heaven for me,” Bernardino said. “This is an incredible experience.”

It could get even better. The Sox start a nine-game West Coast road trip on May 19 in San Diego, where Bernardino and wife, Lacandace, make their home.

Then comes a series in Anaheim, where he saw his first major league game. Angel Stadium is only six miles from where Bernardino went to high school.

“One pitch at a time, that’s my motto,” Bernardino said. “It’s gotten me here.”

Yoshida’s the one

Masataka Yoshida was named the American League player of the week. He was 12 for 25 with two doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, and seven runs scored.

Through Sunday, Yoshida was fifth in the league in batting average (.321) and seventh in on-base percentage (.403).

The Sox are the only team with two honorees so far this season. Adam Duvall was player of the week on April 3.

Braves next

The Sox formally returned lefthander James Paxton from his 30-day minor league rehabilitation assignment. He is expected to be activated during the Braves series and is lined up to face the Cardinals at Fenway this weekend … The Sox continue interleague play with a two-game series against the Braves at Truist Park starting Tuesday. Nick Pivetta is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in the first game. Brayan Bello starts Wednesday. The Braves have not named their starter … Greenville shortstop Marcelo Mayer was named the South Atlantic League player of the week. The 20-year-old hit .516 with nine extra-base hits, eight runs, and 10 RBIs over six games … Portland righthander CJ Liu was the Eastern League pitcher of the week. He threw a seven-inning no-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday at Akron. Liu is 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA on the season.


Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.