SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – You may have heard that the way the Red Sox roster is currently constructed, they don't have an established player in the rotation.
However, they have an ambitious and talented right fielder who wants to take over that role and take the mound on the team's opening day on March 28 in Seattle.
Speaking during the Red Sox winter weekend, Brian Bellew, a 24-year-old coming off his first full season in the majors, didn't hesitate when asked if he wanted to take on that responsibility.
“Yes, after the winter weekend, I will be going straight to Florida to prepare to compete for this position,” Bello said. “Even if I don't start on Opening Day, I want to be there as a second starter. “That's my mentality, competing to be at the top of the standings.”
That's the type of mentality the Red Sox need heading into a season in which they will rely heavily on their young core to take the next step.
What makes Bellew feel motivated to earn this position even in the early stages of his career?
“I think that's the goal that every rookie has. It's something they want to compete for, which is to pitch on the first day, on opening day,” Bello said. “It's one of my career goals, not just for this year, but for the following seasons, to try To be the number one pitcher in the Boston organization. That's why I want to compete for this position.”
Being a Red Sox champion is a position held by pitchers of the caliber of Dominicans Pedro Martinez (Bello's mentor), Curt Schilling, Josh Pickett, Jon Lester, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi.
After Chris Sale was traded to Atlanta and with little chance of James Paxton returning as a free agent, the position became vacant. Acquisition Lucas Giolito, who has played as an ace at times, is another candidate. Nick Pivetta is the only veteran on the show's staff.
Then there's Bellew, who knows he'll have to earn that distinction. That's why he wants to arrive at the camps early – three weeks before the first official training session, scheduled for February 14.
“Yes, it's early. I think being there will allow me to focus without distractions,” Bello said. “That's my mindset now.”
Bello had flashes of an ace last year, but his final numbers (12-11, 4.24 ERA in 28 starts) describe someone who will have a lot to prove to impress Puerto Rican coach Alex Cora.
Bello's plan is to take the next step in his career. To do this, he wants to add a slider as a solid third step.
“At this point, I'm comfortable with the slider thing,” Bellew said. “We'll see in the pre-season.”
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