Brennan Bernardino will start the season with Triple-A Worcester, leaving the Red Sox with just one left-handed reliever heading into Opening Day on Thursday. Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Red Sox made a surprising roster move to seemingly finalize their Opening Day bullpen late Monday night.

The club confirmed that lefty Brennan Bernardino, who emerged as a consistent contributor in 2023, was optioned to Triple-A Worcester to begin the season. Bernardino, who the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America presented with the “unsung hero” at the end of last year, was thought to be a lock for a roster spot when spring training opened. Instead, it looks like he will be Boston’s most surprising cut ahead of the season opener against the Mariners on Thursday night.

In Texas, Manager Alex Cora told reporters that sending Bernardino to the minors was the Sox’s most difficult roster decision of the spring and he expected Bernardino to contribute in the majors throughout the season. Like he did last year, the 32-year-old will likely go back and forth between Boston and Worcester numerous times over the next few months.

Cora previously said the Red Sox – who will have five right-handed starters in their rotation – hoped to carry two lefties in the bullpen to start the season. Instead, they’ll carry just one – veteran Joely Rodríguez, who was told he was on the team Sunday after triggering an opt-out clause in his contract. The seven righties in the bullpen are expected to be closer Kenley Jansen, setup man Chris Martin, long relievers Josh Winckowski and Chase Anderson, Rule 5 pick Justin Slaten, and middle relief arms Isaiah Campbell and Greg Weissert.

After Tuesday’s exhibition game in Texas, Cora told reporters that Weissert, the likely odd man out with Bernardino projected to make the team, was on the roster. There remains a slight chance that the Red Sox scour the market for an available player and make a late addition like they did over the weekend when they signed Anderson (who had opted out of a deal with Pittsburgh).

The Red Sox claimed Bernardino from the Mariners on April 16 last season and he made his debut eight days later. In 55 games (six starts as an opener), the former 26th-round pick posted a 3.20 ERA and struck out 58 batters in 50 2/3 innings. He struck out five batters in 6 2/3 exhibition innings this spring.


The Red Sox will have a deep stable of lefty relievers beginning the year in Worcester with Bernardino, Lucas Luetge, Joe Jacques, Jorge Benítez and Cam Booser on the WooSox’s roster. Left-hander Chris Murphy will likely miss the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

• Rafael Devers hit a solo home run in the first inning and the Red Sox closed their spring schedule with a 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

Mark Contreras also hit a solo home run for the Red Sox, who open the regular season on Thursday night against the Mariners in Seattle. Designated hitter Masataka Yoshida added two hits.


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