ALLENTOWN, Pa. – For Brandon Workman, getting through his first spring training in two years healthy and intact was a significant feat.
“It was good to get that under my belt,” Workman said prior to Pawtucket facing Lehigh Valley in the 2017 season opener on Friday.
Diehard Red Sox fans remember Workman as the pitcher who tossed a scoreless eighth inning in the clinching game of the 2013 World Series. In June 2015, he underwent Tommy John surgery, thus kicking off a long and sometimes strenuous quest to reclaim to the prominent role he once had with the parent club.
The 28-year-old was placed on Pawtucket’s Opening Day roster following a preseason that saw him post a 1.29 ERA in six Grapefruit League games (seven innings). For now, Workman will primarily serve as a long-man out of the bullpen, though PawSox manager Kevin Boles mentioned that shorter stints could also be in the offering.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Workman said.
Whatever the case, Workman says he can start to see the finish line as it relates to becoming the pitcher he was before having Tommy John surgery.
“It’s stunk at times, but you can’t abandon the process at this point,” Workman said. “You’ve got to trust and stick with it.”
Added Boles, “We’ve seen a little bit of an uptick with his stuff, but it’s not like it was before he had the surgery. His arm is coming back and hopefully we can get more out it. The stamina is eventually going to get there, but it’s also trusting that the arm is stable and going to hold up.”
Getting back on the mound last season represented a significant step for Workman, even if the numbers he ended up posting proved less than stellar. In 10 games for three different Red Sox minor-league affiliates, he went 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA. He allowed more hits (26) than innings pitched (20).
“I kind of scuffled a little bit last year, but was nice to get that out of the way … have some innings coming into this year,” Workman said. “That way, I could go into this year not having to knock off that initial rust.”
Workman never got beyond Double-A Portland during his 2016 comeback. Asked if reaching Pawtucket represented a goal, Workman said he set the bar even higher.
“I was trying to get back to the big leagues last year,” he said. “It just didn’t work out that way.”
Having a normal offseason represented a refreshing change of pace, Workman noted.
“I haven’t had that in a long time,” he said. “It was nice to be able to do regular throwing leading up to camp.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03