“'I thought I was going to get him, Peav,’’’ the rookie said to the veteran.
Him, in this instance, being Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty, who launched a first-pitch breaking ball from Workman into center field for a single with two out in the sixth, the only hit he would allow in 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over the Orioles.
“I love it,’’ Peavy said, recounting that conversation.
Full of confidence? The only time you might ever see Workman nervous is when he’s standing in front of the TV cameras after an outing, fidgeting with his hands and speaking softly. On the field?
“In baseball, in life, he doesn’t care about nothing,’’ Peavy said. “Play the game like he plays the game, it’s a beautiful thing, because he don’t care. He just does what he’s asked to do. He doesn’t even try to think through hitters. It’s whatever you call, I’m going to throw as hard as I can.’’
Peavy and John Lackey planned to spend a little time with Workman after the game. Why? Because they like the kid.
“He’s awesome in all ways,’’ Peavy said. “He’s a real good kid, works his butt off, and he’s respectful. He knows when we’re telling him stuff, it’s to make him better.’’
Tough to be much better than Workman was Tuesday night. The last time he started, last Wednesday night in Cleveland, he had to wait out a 2 1/2-hour rain delay before he could even take the mound. Tuesday night, he had to wait out two rain delays, both in the second inning. The first lasted just 15 minutes; the second, after play had resumed for just 13 minutes, lasted an hour and 18 minutes.
“I honestly thought if he got through four innings that might be enough,’’ manager John Farrell said. “But as efficient as he was, as strong as he was making pitches, we were pretty much inning to inning, but he kept putting up zeroes and getting guys out consecutively.’’
The win was Workman’s first in four starts since replacing the injured Felix Doubront in the Sox rotation. This was the first time he had pitched into the seventh inning this season; he had gone five innings twice and 5 1/3 innings against the Rays, throwing between 85 and 89 pitches in all three starts.
Tuesday night, he threw just 67 pitches, 42 for strikes. He didn’t allow a baserunner until Nelson Cruz drew a one-out walk in the fifth. He struck out four, and the hardest-hit ball he allowed, a bullet by Caleb Joseph in the third, was snared by third baseman Xavier Bogaerts with a diving play.
Opinion is divided among scouts whether Workman’s future is more promising as a starter than a reliever. The Sox have used him both ways and will be faced with a decision when Doubront returns; Workman is making a strong bid to remain in the rotation. He definitely has made an impression on catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
“He has the mentality,’’ Pierzynski said. “Super aggressive. Put him anywhere, he comes right after guys. He wants the ball.’’