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Rick rolls: Porcello taking whirlwind in stride

AL Cy Young Award winner welcomes growing acclaim in typical low-key fashion
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- For Rick Porcello, a whirlwind Saturday started at the Red Sox Winter Weekend, a festive event that gives fans a chance to have up-close interactions with their favorite players. It will finish at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner, where Porcello will formally receive his American League Cy Young Award trophy.

These are exciting times for the right-hander, who had a coming-of-age season after several years of grinding away.

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- For Rick Porcello, a whirlwind Saturday started at the Red Sox Winter Weekend, a festive event that gives fans a chance to have up-close interactions with their favorite players. It will finish at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner, where Porcello will formally receive his American League Cy Young Award trophy.

These are exciting times for the right-hander, who had a coming-of-age season after several years of grinding away.

So how has life changed for one of the most low-key players on the Red Sox?

"In some ways, it changes it a lot and in some ways, not at all," said Porcello. "Obviously, there's a little bit more attention and things like that thrown at you. I've always tried to maintain a private life and that stuff outside of baseball. That's still the same and still valuable to me in the same regard. It's definitely been an awesome experience up to this point."

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who drafted Porcello when he was in the Tigers' front office, feels the righty has the perfect mentality to adapt to his rise in stature.

"I don't think he'll change much, that's the reality," Dombrowski said. "He's grounded, and as I've told his parents numerous times, Rick is a fine pitcher, but we're more proud of the type of person he is. He's a tremendous person with a great work ethic and humility to him."

Video: A day with Rick Porcello in New Jersey

At the Winter Weekend, Porcello participated in a panel with three other members of the Cy Young club -- Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Dennis Eckersley, as well as teammate David Price. In New York, Porcello was eager to mingle with current and former legends. The more success Porcello has, the more of those encounters he will be able to have.

"I'll have the opportunity to meet some of the Hall of Famers and legends of the game at the dinner," Porcello said. "To this point, I've kind of just been going about my offseason like I normally would, and I haven't been in too many situations where that would happen."

Tweet from @RedSox: �������� pic.twitter.com/qAcZBMOIya

The most exciting thing that happened to Porcello this winter was when he saw the breaking news alert that the Red Sox had acquired Chris Sale.

Sale tries on new jersey for Red Sox fans

"I was just kind of looking around online, and I saw it was the breaking news headline," Porcello said. "Of course, my immediate reaction was, 'This is awesome.' To be able to acquire a guy like that, I played against him for six years in the Central and every time he pitched against us, it was [a] shutdown -- and we had a good offense in Detroit too. It was like, 'This guy is the real deal.' It doesn't matter who he's pitching against, he's going to go out there and flat-out dominate."

Thrilled to be part of a rotation that includes Sale and Price, Porcello isn't about to anoint himself for the Opening Day start on April 3 against the Pirates.

"That's not a decision for me to make -- you know that," Porcello said.

Video: BAL@BOS: Porcello holds O's to one run over eight

Porcello plans to be a tone-setter in the "not getting caught up in the hype" category.

"You don't win games or championships on paper," Porcello said. "You've got to go out there and get it done on the field. So there's a lot that we need to accomplish, and I'm looking forward to it definitely."

As far as the one mishap Porcello had last year -- his clunker in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Indians -- he knows it's not productive to let it linger.

"I mean, you know, just like any other start, you've got to find ways to get over that stuff," Porcello said." It doesn't feel good to go out there and not win Game 1. But you know, I'm on to 2017 now. And really everything that's happened in 2016 is behind me -- the season that I had, the postseason that our team had. We're on to this year, and what we can accomplish here."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Rick Porcello