FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the Red Sox trailing the Minnesota Twins by two runs on Sunday afternoon, Brandon Workman struck out the side in the third inning. Then Colten Brewer did the same in the fourth.
That the Sox came back to beat the Twins, 8-5, entertained the sellout crowd of 9,985. But it was how well the two bullpen candidates pitched that matters most in the long run.
With his fastball velocity running 91-93 miles per hour, Workman punched out Lucas Duda, Brent Rooker, and LaMonte Wade.
Then Brewer, featuring a sharp curveball, disposed of Zack Granite, Randy Cesar, and Nick Gordon. All went down swinging.
As the Red Sox piece together their bullpen, those innings offered a sign of what is possible.
“That was really good,” manager Alex Cora said. “With Work, it’s a good start for him. With Brewer, we know about the stuff. It was a good way to start his camp, too. We believe in what he’s doing.”
Workman’s velocity dipped to 85-86 a year ago and he started the season in Triple A. Now that he’s out of minor league options, he needs to perform well from the start.
“I’m trying to earn a spot in that bullpen. It’s important for me to have a good spring and show I’m able to contribute,” Workman said.
The Red Sox saw Brewer as an undervalued asset when they obtained him from the Padres in December. Pitching coach Dana LeVangie moved him closer to the first base side of the rubber to improve his curveball and slider.
“Trying to nail the curveball when it needs to be nailed,” Brewer said.
In his spring debut, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a long and loud home run to right-center in the first inning off Martin Perez.
It was the swing Bradley has been working on since the All-Star break last season. Be balanced, get the bat through the strike zone, and extend to get the ball in the air.
“Making sure I’m being consistent in my drills and trying to form consistent habits,” Bradley said. “Swinging at good pitches for one, and making a good habit of not losing what I’ve been working on all offseason.”
Cora suggested that Dustin Pedroia could make his spring debut after the team gets through a two-game trip to the east coast of Florida on March 4 and 5.
No date is set, but around that time is likely.
Pedroia has been encouraged by his progress recovering from knee surgery. But the Sox are being careful after a rehab program last season that proved to be too ambitious.
“Showing up early and doing everything, I think he knows what’s going on and how he feels and where’s he heading,” Cora said
“Last year we were all learning about the knee. Even him, he didn’t know what was going to happen. He pushed himself and we thought that we had the guy back, but it didn’t happen. But we learned a lot. We have more information now how we can do things and avoid that knee to get upset.”
Brasier still out
Righthanded reliever Ryan Brasier remains sidelined with an infected right big toe. It has taken longer than expected for him to recover. “He should be fine. If not we’ll just cut it off,” Cora said. “I’m just kidding.” . . . Rusney Castillo, the bird in the gilded cage, will miss a few days with a strained right groin. He had been scheduled to play in the road games at Bradenton (Pirates) and Dunedin (Blue Jays) on Monday and Tuesday . . . Hanley Ramirez, who was released by the Sox last May 30 and sat out the rest of the season, signed a minor league deal with the Indians. “Good for him. He went to winter ball and he played a little bit,” Cora said. “He’s an everyday player. If he gets his at-bats he might be able to produce. He’s still young enough [at 35]. In the situation we were in, the at-bats were going to be less and less and we weren’t going to maximize his talents.” . . . Twins legends Rod Carew and Tony Oliva accompanied the team to JetBlue Park . . . Cora has asked J.D. Martinez to spend a little time talking hitting with third base prospect Bobby Dalbec. “It’s going to be interesting. That’s what we’re here for,” Cora said . . . The Sox play the Pirates at Bradenton on Monday. Brian Johnson is the scheduled starter. Dalbec, Michael Chavis, Sandy Leon, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Blake Swihart are the other prominent players making the trip.