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April 26, 2013

Wilson could be this year's Merloni

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.

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