FORT MYERS, Fla. – The defending World Series champions added just one new face to their 40-man roster this offseason, and they think he can be a secret weapon.
But if righty reliever Colten Brewer dazzles to the degree he did in Sunday’s 8-5 win over the Twins, he won’t stay a secret for long. Brewer struck out all three batters he faced swinging in the top of the fourth inning.
“We know about the stuff,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s a good way to start his camp. We believe in what he’s doing and what we’re doing with him. Hopefully, the mix is going to give us a good pitcher."
“Me and [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie] are just working on mound positioning right now and not a whole lot, but trying to nail the curveball when it’s needed to be nailed," Brewer said. "That’s one of the things I need to work on."
Less than a month after the Red Sox won the World Series, they acquired the 26-year-old Brewer in a trade with the Padres for infielder Esteban Quiroz.
“First of all, I was pretty surprised,” Brewer said. “I got pretty excited afterwards, the fact that it happened. I was just kind of in awe, like, 'Did I just go to the World Series team?' I was like, 'Yeah, that really just happened.' So, I mean, it’s kind of just a realization for me.”
As everyone knows, Boston’s bullpen is in a state of flux. Joe Kelly signed with the Dodgers. Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent, and he isn’t expected to return. The Red Sox are looking for some hidden gems, like the one they found in Ryan Brasier a year ago.
“We’re both Texas boys,” Brewer said. “We love the grind as much as anybody else does. It would be real cool to do what he did last year.”
Brandon Workman also had a dominant outing from the bullpen Sunday, striking out the side in the third.
“Velocity was up,” Cora said. “Last year, when he was here, he was throwing 85-86 [mph]. Today, it was 91-93.”
Chavis unloads again
For the second straight day, Michael Chavis, the top-ranked Red Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, thrilled the fans at JetBlue Park by going deep. This time, Chavis turned on the first pitch and walloped it over the replica Green Monster for a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth. In Saturday’s win over the Yankees, he went to the opposite field in right-center.
“The other one was the other way, so hitting one over the Monster was a little bit fun,” Chavis said. “But coming off the bench, just being able to help the team, I kind of thought about it as that could be my role in the future. When I get called up, I’m not expecting to hit third in the lineup.”
Bradley connects in first spring at-bat
Spring Training got off to an auspicious start for Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., when he bashed a solo homer to right in the bottom of the first inning.
After finding his groove in the second half last season, Bradley went to California this winter to work on his new swing -- one focused on launch angle -- with Craig Wallenbrock, the same guru who helped J.D. Martinez.
“It’s always cool when you see someone work so hard in the offseason, and you always wonder. They’re working on their swing, and hopefully there’s instant results,” Cora said. “That was a great swing. Right-center, breaking ball, balance, bat through the zone. Extension. That’s a good sign.”
Bradley is just trying to stay in tune with his mechanics.
“I think that’s my main focus is making sure I’m just being consistent with my drills and trying to form consistent habits,” Bradley said. “Swing at good pitches, for one. Making a good habit of just making sure I don’t lose what I’ve been working on all offseason.”
Is it a case of muscle memory?
“Yes, there is,” Bradley said, “but the body has a way of trying to go back to doing something it’s been doing for a long time. So I have to just make sure I stay consistent on harping on what I’ve been doing now, because I don’t want to revert back.”
Plan for Pedroia coming into focus
All eyes will be on second baseman Dustin Pedroia once he is cleared to play in games, and that could happen in about 10 days.
“The way things are going, probably after that road trip next week,” Cora said.
Cora was referring to the trip to Florida's east coast, where the Red Sox will play against the Mets and Nationals. That could position Pedroia to make his Grapefruit League debut by March 6.
Pedroia played just three games in 2018 after undergoing major surgery on his left knee. He has had a productive camp thus far while working at a conservative pace.
Cora wishes Hanley well
When the Red Sox released Hanley Ramirez last May, no one ever expected he would be out of work for nine months. At last, the slugger has found a spot, reaching agreement on a Minor League deal with the Indians.
“Good for him,” Cora said. “He went to winter ball, and he played a little bit. It’s a different dynamic over there [in Cleveland]. I don’t know how much [he will play], where they’re at or what they do. Like I say, he’s an everyday player, and if he gets his at-bats, he might be able to produce. He’s still young enough. In the situation we were in, the at-bats were going to be less and less, and we weren’t going to be able to maximize his talents."
Lefty Brian Johnson, who figures to be a swingman again for the Red Sox this season, gets the start in Monday’s road game in Bradenton against the Pirates. Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart are expected to be in the lineup. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.