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Opening Day stage Porcello's reward for Cy triumph

March 30, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It took Rick Porcello 107 wins and 241 career starts to get to the grand stage he will take on Monday at Fenway Park, when the veteran right-hander will make the first Opening Day start of his career, facing the Pirates in a 2:05 p.m. ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It took Rick Porcello 107 wins and 241 career starts to get to the grand stage he will take on Monday at Fenway Park, when the veteran right-hander will make the first Opening Day start of his career, facing the Pirates in a 2:05 p.m. ET contest.
And in fitting Porcello fashion, he doesn't view the opportunity as a reason to celebrate.
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Instead, it only serves as a reminder to him of how important it is to stick with a process.
"I think regardless of what kind of season you have prior, you always turn the page on it and understand this is a new year," Porcello said. "Basically, take the same process I take every year and try to get prepared to go out there and do the things that I'm looking to do to give us a chance to win."
Of course, last season was the best Porcello has had. The righty went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and won the American League's Cy Young Award. The fact that manager John Farrell chose Porcello to start the season for a team that also has newly acquired left-hander Chris Sale demonstrates how much respect the sinkerballer has earned.
However, that success hasn't changed Porcello's demeanor in any way.
"Yeah, he's very business-like in his approach," said Farrell. "He's serious about every aspect of his craft, and that goes in all realms with his preparation. He's a very grounded and very level-headed and competitive guy. I know, as we all know, where his focus is, and that's executing pitches."

Can Porcello execute with the same precision he did last year?
"I don't know what the end numbers are going to be," Farrell said. "But he puts himself in a position to be the most prepared physically, mentally and from a game-plan standpoint each time he walks to the mound. That's a testament to his routine. Physically, he looks in great shape -- he's strong -- so it wouldn't surprise me if a year in terms of the number of innings pitched and the quality of innings are similar to last year."
Perhaps nobody is better positioned than the even-keeled Porcello to handle the increased expectations that come following a career year.
"You get a little bit more attention -- your name is out there a little bit," Porcello said. "It's all good stuff, obviously, but you have to be able to compartmentalize. Last year is last year. I'm not going to just sit here and be content because of what happened last year. We've still got things we want to accomplish as a team, and the attention is a little bit more, but I try hard to keep my mindset the same and continue to work hard and stay hungry."

There is nobody better than Porcello to take the ball with the Red Sox opening a season at Fenway Park for the first time since 2010.
You might recall that Porcello became quite comfortable at home last year, going 13-1 with a 2.97 ERA and holding opponents to a .642 OPS.
"I was very comfortable there for whatever reason," said Porcello. "Obviously, it's nice pitching in front of our crowd at home. When you can be comfortable in that atmosphere, I think it can work to your advantage. It wasn't anything crazy. I just ended up getting on a roll there and felt comfortable. That was pretty much it."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.