7/31/2013 7:48 P.M. ET
Sharp as starter, Workman switches to relief role
By Ian Browne and Jason Mastrodonato / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Brandon Workman's trifecta of solid starts did not go unnoticed. So even though the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy to fill out the rotation, Workman will stay in Boston rather than returning to the Minors.
He will now be asked to fill an important bullpen role.
"He won't be available for probably four days because of the number of pitches thrown [Tuesday] night," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "In the event that something we're to happen that's unforeseen at this point, Brandon has done probably as much as we could have asked in the three starts he's made. If the need arises to go to another starter, we'd certainly turn back to Brandon if this is before Clay [Buchholz] is ready. Brandon Workman has been very impressive."
What will make Workman equally effective as a reliever?
"First of all, it's strike throwing," Farrell said. "If you start to prioritize the characteristics of a successful reliever, it's strike throwing and he has shown that. Even in his only relief appearance, he's shown the ability to get some swing and miss to his fastball.
"[Tuesday] night was the best curveball he's had in the three starts he's made for us. I don't know that you can pinpoint any one thing, because the one thing that probably stands out the most is the demeanor on the mound and the composure and the mound presence. Even when he's been pitching with some traffic behind him or guys on base, he's not tried to overthrow and come out of his delivery. He's done a very good job."
Another thing Workman will offer the Red Sox out of the bullpen is length. He should be able to give two to three innings at a time, if needed.
"Once Brandon is recovered from the start, to have a multi-inning guy down there, and then to have three left-handers in the bullpen, particularly with the teams that we're playing, it's a little bit of a luxury," Farrell said. "I think there's a good balance and a good complements of abilities in that bullpen."
Holt, not Middlebrooks, called up by Boston
BOSTON -- Infielder Brock Holt moved up to the Red Sox instead of Will Middlebrooks on Wednesday, replacing Jose Iglesias, who was dealt to the Tigers in a three-way trade that brought Jake Peavy to Boston.
That doesn't mean Middlebrooks won't factor into the stretch run for the Red Sox.
"Well, he's in the conversation, I know that," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "In his own right, he's working through things that he's been very clear on, and there's been some increase in consistency while in Pawtucket. But the backup shortstop was the reason for Brock today."
Conceivably, the Red Sox could bring back Middlebrooks, keep Holt and move Brandon Snyder back to the Minors. But Snyder is out of Minor League options.
"There's a depth component we want to preserve," said Farrell. "That's where we are today."
Middlebrooks, who began the season as Boston's third baseman but was demoted after hitting .192 in 203 at-bats, remains at Pawtucket.
It remains to be seen how much longer Middlebrooks will stay at Triple-A.
"He's doing well," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "He's doing everything we've asked him to do. He's a very talented player who got to the big leagues fairly quickly. He had some success and, like a lot of talented players who play in the big leagues for a long time, he hit a little bit of a speed bump this year, but he'll get past it and he's going to be a very good Major League player for a long time.
"He's done exactly what we've asked him to do. He knows what he needs to do. And he'll be back in the big leagues when the time is right. We don't know when that is."
Middlebrooks struck out in a third-inning at-bat in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Norfolk and was ejected for arguing with home-plate umpire Joey Amaral.
"It was out [of the strike zone], but I overreacted," said Middlebrooks. "Just got frustrated. You're trying to have good at-bats and to have them taken away from you, it gets frustrating after a while. I obviously lost my cool."
PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina said it's been a difficult time for Middlebrooks, who has been subject to trade rumors and was then passed on a promotion in favor of Holt.
"He's getting frustrated with a couple of things," DiSarcina said. "He said a couple things he shouldn't have said and he got ejected. He's got to learn how to control the frustrations. For me, watching him the last day, it's been tough. All the trade rumors, Holt going up, it can get frustrating. But you can't get thrown out there."
The long-term plan for Middlebrooks hasn't changed. The 24-year-old is hitting .253 with a .774 OPS with Pawtucket, still a good distance away from his Triple-A numbers in 2012, when he hit .333 with a 1.057 OPS. He'll keep playing third base for Pawtucket until the Red Sox feel his at-bats are consistently productive.
"I have to get back to myself, having fun, getting back to baseball and things will take care of themselves," Middlebrooks. "I was taking things too serious. I got frustrated after the bad start, had some injuries. It happens to everybody at some point.
"I'm not worried about that. My biggest thing in my own mind was getting my body healthy. And I think I'm getting there."
Xander Bogaerts -- the organization's top-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com -- will continue to develop with Pawtucket. The 20-year-old will play mostly shortstop, but he will get a turn at third base at least once a week to add versatility to his resume.
Holt, whom the Red Sox acquired from the Pirates in the Joel Hanrahan deal last offseason, hit .290 with eight RBIs in 10 games in Boston during early July. He's hit .264 with four doubles and one homer in 69 games for Pawtucket, but he's known more for his ability to put together quality at-bats.
Nieves looking forward to reuniting with Peavy
BOSTON -- One thing Jake Peavy won't need upon his arrival to the Red Sox is an introduction to his new pitching coach.
Juan Nieves, who is in his first year with the Red Sox, served as the bullpen coach for most of Peavy's time with the White Sox.
"He's probably the ultimate warrior," said Nieves. "He competes every pitch. He gives everything he has. He leaves it on the field. A good teammate. He'll fit in really well here. We're really looking forward to watching him compete again and be part of the grind here."
The more Nieves talked about Peavy, the more enthusiastic he seemed to get.
"I'll tell you one thing: his command is impeccable," Nieves said. "He doesn't walk anybody. He keeps the ball inside the ballpark. He can command four or five pitches. His delivery is very solid. His biggest strength is his demeanor, his competitiveness, and his willingness to win every game -- and stay as long as possible, to outlast the opponent.
"He wants to pitch longer than the other guy. If the other guy happens to be a short outing, he wants to be there the whole game. It's wonderful to see him compete."
One thing the Red Sox will soon come to appreciate is Peavy's knowledge of pitching.
"Very savvy," Nieves said. "Actually, he's in that group with El Duque [Orlando Hernandez] and guys like that that had a doctor's degree in pitching. These guys really know. They can read swings. They can read when hitters are actually swinging at first pitches. He knows when to attack a hitter, when to retreat, and, of course, there's a little bit of a different mindframe when you pitch at Fenway, but he fits right in with what we believe -- working fast, throwing strikes and attacking the strike zone."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.