FORT MYERS, Fla. — For a second straight offseason, Boston Red Sox pitcher Brayan Bello worked out with a team legend, Pedro Martinez.

Bello, a Dominican Republic native like Martinez, spent about three or four days at the Hall of Famer’s home, where they first focused on his slider.

“I’ve been working a lot on that pitch,” Bello said Thursday through translator Carlos Villoria Benítez at JetBlue Park. “I worked with Pedro in the offseason with the same grip that I had last year. I feel more confident with that pitch. I feel I can control it in any count. Like today in live (batting practice), I used it and I felt really good about it. So it was a good offseason for that pitch. I feel like my confidence is up on that pitch.”

Bello, 24, used his slider 17.7% of the time in 2023 and opponents batted .304. The opposition also slugged .457 against the pitch.

“When I got there, my slider wasn’t in the best shape,” Bello said. “So he gave me a few tips and that same day I was able to get a good grip on it, and I was throwing it consistently. And the next few days, I’m getting more confidence with it. So it was a very good time I spent with Pedro helping me get my slider back on track.”

Bello said in January at Red Sox Winter Weekend that one of his goals is to be the Opening Day starter. He was asked Thursday if he thinks he can be an ace.


“Yes, of course. That’s a goal that I have,” he said. “I know it might not be this year or next year but that’s a goal I have for the long-term.”

Manager Alex Cora mentioned Bello is “physically way ahead” than where he was at this point last year.

“You see him around. He’s grown into a man now,” Cora said. “He’s gained some weight. He looks stronger. He did an outstanding job in the offseason. Now it’s about his buildup and be ready for the opening series.”

Bello added: “I was working on my lower body, my back as well. I felt like at the end of last year I felt a little bit weak. So I wanted to strengthen my lower body so I can get more innings and feel more strong at the end of the year.”

Bello tailed off late last year. He entered September with a 3.57 ERA but gave up 22 earned runs in 26 innings and finished with a 4.24 ERA.

“I had a few outings at the end of the year that weren’t the best,” he said. “So for me, I needed to tackle that right away. I wanted to tackle that right away being aggressive from the first day. And yeah, I was kind of disappointed the last few starts last year.”


SECOND BASEMAN Vaughn Grissom, who is 23, is listed at 6-foot-2 but looks about two inches taller.

“We saw how tall and how far he can hit the ball two years ago,” Manager Alex Cora said about Grissom, who in August 2022 homered in his major league debut against Boston at Fenway Park. “He’s physical. There was a physical shortstop here in 2013 and he grew into what he is right now.”

Cora was referring to Xander Bogaerts, who is listed at 6-2.

“I think body-wise, if you compare Vaughn and Xander, they’re very similar,” Cora said. “Actually he’s probably a little bit stronger at this stage than when Xander was 23. So hopefully, he can get stronger and be as good a player as Xander is.”

Grissom, who the Red Sox acquired from the Braves for Chris Sale in December, is the frontrunner to be the Opening Day starting second baseman. Cora said Grissom will get “a chance to run away with the second-base job.”

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