Brandon Workman still hopes to be starter

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- When the Boston Red Sox acquired a trio of pitchers to fill out their rotation this offseason, it was a tough pill for Brandon Workman to swallow.

The right-hander has always viewed himself as a starter. But when the opportunity finally came last season, Workman failed to take advantage of it.

Given a long leash, the 26-year-old struggled mightily. He posted a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts, earning his first and only win in his fourth start before being on the losing end of nine of his final 11.

Now on the outside looking in, Workman acknowledged Saturday at the team’s Baseball Winter Weekend that his most likely route to making the team out of spring training will be to return to the bullpen, where he impressed during the team’s 2013 World Series run.

However, that won’t stop him from gunning for a second chance in the rotation.

“I’m going in there looking forward to competing, hopefully winning a spot,” Workman said. “I’d like to be in the rotation. I’m hoping I can win a job in the starting rotation but we’ll see how that goes. I’m doing everything I can right now to prepare for it and get ready to put myself in a good spot to compete for that job.”

Despite the poor results on the field last season, Workman feels he learned a lot from the experience. The right-hander pinpointed several adjustments he needed to make, including increasing his stamina and sharpening the command of his pitches.

“My stuff kind of fell off at the end of last year,” Workman said. “I wasn’t bringing the same stuff to the table that I was at the beginning of the year and that made it tougher on me. But even with that, I feel like if I would have executed better I still would have been able to get the job done.”

Looking back on his season, Workman also said that being suspended for six games for throwing near the head of Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria played a role in the downward spiral his season took. Before the suspension, Workman allowed three runs or less in all five of his starts. After the suspension, he allowed more than three runs in seven of his final 10 starts.

He didn’t use that as an excuse, however, instead opting to view it as a learning experience.

“All I can do if I’m ever in a situation like that again is work a little harder,” Workman said. "Work better .. to stay in rhythm, stay on track, whether it’s suspension or injury or anything like that.”

If Workman is indeed converted into a reliever -- which is likely, given the current state of the team’s roster -- he at least has success to fall back on in that role. He didn’t give up a run in seven games out of the bullpen during the 2013 postseason, including the World Series-clincher. He also initially started last year as a reliever, posting similarly dominant results.

“That’s something I have all the confidence in the world I am able to do that,” Workman said. “If that’s what I’m told my role needs to be then I have all the confidence I can do that and I can fill that role.”

Having not yet been told whether he’ll be used as a starter or reliever next season, Workman is still clinging to the hope that he’ll pitch as the former. He might be on the outside looking in, but that isn’t going to stop him from trying to work his way back into the rotation.

“All I can do right now is work hard and put myself in the best position to not be in a 6-10 and be in a 1-5 spot,” Workman said.