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Bowden expects to remain in bullpen in 2011

09.22.10 at 1:03 pm ET
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Michael Bowden anticipates spending the 2011 season as a reliever. (AP)

It is an opportunity that Michael Bowden relishes. The 24-year-old right-hander will head to Venezuela following this season, where he will pitch out of the bullpen for Magallanas. The assignment represents not just a chance to hone his education as a reliever, but also to have new life experiences.

“I’m really excited,” said Bowden, who has been pitching out of the bullpen for the Sox for the first extended stretch this year after spending most of his six pro seasons as a starter. “I’ve never really been outside of the country. Not only that, but I get to play baseball, experience something that I’ve never experienced. I just get to play the game, learn how it’s played in different places. I’m excited about the lifestyle, getting to play baseball and learning, working on my game, fine-tuning some things I want to work on. I’m just very, very excited about going.”

The experience will likely prove valuable as Bowden prepares for the 2011 season, which is shaping up as his first full year as a bullpen guy. Bowden confirmed that, as of now, the plan for him is to report to spring training as a reliever.

“As of now, I’m going to winter ball to work on getting repetitions in the bullpen for next year,” said Bowden. “The plan as of now is to be a reliever [in 2011]. I enjoy it. There’s still a lot of learning to do.”

Bowden is hopeful that he will get roughly 15 appearances out of the bullpen for Magallanes, adding to his limited experience as a reliever. This year, the right-hander has pitched in 11 games for the Sox, and while his 5.25 ERA and 18 hits in 12 innings both suggest room to improve, he has shown some promise, striking out 10 batters and walking just two.

In his most recent outing, Bowden struck out three batters in a scoreless inning of work on Monday. He suggested that he worked with pitching coach John Farrell prior to the game on pitching down in the strike zone, and that the immediate results were satisfying.

“It felt good,” Bowden said of the outing. “I was working with [Farrell] in the bullpen, prior to the game, just to stay on top of the ball because I’d been up in the zone quite a bit. So I’ve just been working on staying down in the zone. I felt comfortable. I’m just glad that I was able to apply it and get results.”

Bowden is hoping to continue that development in Venezuela this coming offseason. It is an undertaking for which his enthusiasm is far-reaching.

“I’m going there for just over a month, hopefully about 15 appearances or so, get some work in. I’ve heard it’s a crazy atmosphere there. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” said Bowden. “Hopefully I’ll be pitching some meaningful innings, getting some good experience. Hopefully it will carry over into next year.

“How aggressive I can be, the execution of pitches, that’s going to come with more repetition. I feel like I’m getting ahold of it, but I know there’s still more there.”

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