BOSTON — It’s easy to root for Alex Wilson, whose route to the majors included Tommy John surgery in college and four-plus years in the minors after being drafted in the second round in 2009 out of Texas A&M.
Wilson made his major league debut here at Fenway Park on April 11 against Baltimore, hurling a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.
“I got off the field, sat down in the dugout and just kind of thought to myself, ‘Man, that happened quick,’” Wilson said. “I’m just fortunate enough it went in the right direction.”
The Red Sox reliever’s journey to Fenway Park wasn’t as easy as many early round picks’ have been. And the uncertainty remains.
In light of Alfredo Aceves’ meltdown, Wilson won’t be optioned to Pawtucket until at least two other disabled pitchers are activated.
Red Sox disabled pitchers include Craig Breslow, Joel Hanrahan and John Lackey.
Wilson, 26, could very well have a long and successful career as a major league reliever. But this year his job is to provide depth to a strong bullpen. If a reliever gets hurt, he’ll be back.
He could end up being this year’s Lou Merloni — the player who travels back and forth from Rhode Island the most times.
But for now, he remains in Boston. The key moment in Wilson’s journey here came last April when the Red Sox decided to convert him from a starter to a reliever.
If that hadn’t happened, who knows if he ever would have made the majors.
The switch was the best thing that could have happened for the right-hander who has a repertoire more suited for relieving. He didn’t complain at all when he was told he was being moved to the bullpen even though the Red Sox had told him before last year began that they were going to keep him a starter.
Wilson instead decided to relish his new role.
So far, so good with Boston. He hadn’t allowed a run in his first 4.0 innings entering last night vs. Oakland.
This past offseason was different for Wilson because he prepared as a reliever.
“I changed my workout regimen a little bit and became more power orientated,” he said. “Shorter running and more sprints and heavier weights. Stuff like that. It kind of fits me better personally as far as the way I’m built.”
Wilson’s goal as a reliever is to throw quick innings.
“I’m going to challenge hitters,” Wilson said.
“I’m going to come right at them. We do go over scouting reports and everything obviously, but I base my attack off (aggressiveness). I want to challenge hitters. I want it to be three pitches or less with every hitter.”
With the evolution of his two-seam fastball over the past couple of years, Wilson said he has become more successful against left-handed hitters.
“I’ve been getting a lot of ground ball outs lately,” he said.
“It’s been a huge thing for me.”
Wilson lived with former Red Sox pitcher Kyle Weiland three spring trainings ago and learned the two-seamer grip from him.
“(The two-seamer) is going to sink or run to your arm side where my four-seam I want to carry it on the straight line generally across the corner,” Wilson said.
“The great thing about the two-seamer is that you can run if off the plate, or you can run it into some hands. It’s been a great pitch.”