Why it’s going to take more than one wild pitch to bump Brandon Workman off his game
|09.11.13 at 12:46 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There have been moments Brandon Workman could have gotten sidetracked.
There was that loss in the College World Series’ final game. (“I got the loss, but I bounced back,” he said of the defeat at the hands of LSU.) And then, a year later, an incident midway through his first professional season presented another uneasy moment.
Playing for Single-A Greenville, Workman was out with his mother when a nearby patron started giving the pair a hard time. In an effort to stand up for his mom, the then-22-year-old got in a scuffle that resulted in a bottle gashing the left side of his face. The confrontation left the pitcher with 50 stitches and, subsequently, a significant scar.
But Workman bounced back.
He would only miss one start before returning to the mound, drawing on his resilience (and a devastating cutter the Red Sox had asked him to put on the back burner for the season’s first half) to springboard into a string of professional successes.
“Throughout my career there have been numerous incidents where stuff hasn’t gone my way, both in my control and out of my control. I’ve always been able to put stuff behind me,” Workman said. “I always said you’ve got that day, you can be pissed and then it’s the next day. It’s behind you, good or bad. It’s in the past.”
It’s why when moments come up like the one that took place Sunday at Yankee Stadium — when a Workman wild pitch sealed a Red Sox loss — it is something that came and went, not unlike his previous bumps in the road.
According to Workman, the approach the pitcher will continue to count on was born from life lessons in his family’s backyard. Dennis Workman made sure of it.
“Growing up it’s something my dad instilled at me at a young age, not to get wrapped up in situations,” he said. “Whether you’re doing well or not, you should take the same approach. That’s something I’ve tried to prove throughout my career.”
“I can remember throwing bullpens to my dad when I was 12 years old, or taking BP, and him saying, ‘OK, last inning, two outs, you’re up to bat.’ Just putting me mentally in those situations. Or shooting free throws, saying, ‘OK, game is on the line.’ Just telling me you want to be in those situations. You want to be the guy on the mound with the game on the line, and treat it the same if it’s the first pitch of the game or the last pitch of the game. He was always trying to put pressure on me in practice so it’s the same mental approach when I was in the game in that situation. I think it’s something I’ve gotten used to doing, and I feel I’m pretty good at it.
“I feel comfortable in those spots. I feel comfortable being on the mound in a tie game. I count on being tough and always being able to do my job.”
Other than a rough outing in Houston (when slack needed to be picked up after Steven Wright‘s one-inning start), there hadn’t been many notable steps back for Workman until the Yankees game. For instance, of the 11 runners he has inherited, only one has scored. And even in that two-thirds-of-an-inning stint in Yankee Stadium, he was just one batter away from continuing a productive trend.
“Any time you’re in a big spot and you don’t get the job done, it’s more than just not getting the job done. You feel like you’ve let your teammates down. But it’s something you have to put behind you. You’re going to mess up,” he said. ” I’ve done that throughout my life, comeback from bad outings and have been able to put it behind myself really quick.”
That’s what the Red Sox will be counting on.
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