SEATTLE -- There were three players on the Red Sox roster who had never participated in Opening Day in the Major Leagues until Thursday. Two (Sam Travis and Colten Brewer) were easy enough to guess.
The third? Ryan Brasier.
Considering that Brasier was a key force in the bullpen in Boston’s run to World Series glory last year and will again be counted on to get high-leverage outs this year, it’s easy to forget he was still a Minor League player at this time last year.
After being drafted by the Angels in 2007, it was a long journey for the 31-year-old Brasier to get to Opening Day, but one he truly appreciates.
“Oh, for sure,” Brasier said. “You dream about it as a kid. To play on a day that the whole country watches, it’s definitely exciting.”
But the low-key Brasier didn’t allow the excitement to keep him up all night.
“Last night before going to bed, I figured I’d wake up super early, but luckily I slept in a little bit and woke up ready to go,” Brasier said. “I know we have a target on our back. Repeating is never easy in anything that you’re doing. Just try to get out there and do the same thing we did last year.”
And for Brasier, this year starts somewhere it never had before – on the Major League roster.
The Red Sox got word on Thursday that catcher Sandy Leon has accepted his assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Leon played for Boston the last four seasons, but was beaten out by Blake Swihart for the second catching spot.
It was good news for the Red Sox that Leon is staying in the organization. If Christian Vazquez or Swihart suffers an injury, Leon is now just a phone call away as a replacement.
And manager Alex Cora mentioned another reason that could be just as beneficial.
“He can help some of the [pitchers] out there [at Pawtucket], too,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of guys on that roster, they have a shot to come up here and help us out pitching-wise. And having Sandy down there and Juan [Centeno] is going to help us at the Triple-A level.”
Pearce and Pedroia updates
Hours before the Red Sox opened their season, Dustin Pedroia got some work in at the team’s Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Playing in a Minor League game, Pedroia went 1-for-4 as the DH. He was supposed to play second base, but the plans changed when his flight from Arizona to Fort Myers got in late.
The Red Sox hope Pedroia – who played just three games last season due to left knee woes -- can start a Minor League rehab assignment by next week, but he needs to go through some steps before a decision is made.
“Back to backs, see how he reacts,” said Cora. “With him, tomorrow is important. I’ve been saying that all along, see how he reacts to the daily grind and go from there.”
Steve Pearce, who is also starting the season on the injured list due to a left calf injury, will play in a Minors game tomorrow. Cora said it’s too early to tell if Pearce will be activated in Arizona, the final stop on this three-city road trip.