Josh Winckowski was sent to Triple-A Worcester on Sunday and will join the starting rotation there. Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox sent Josh Winckowski to Triple-A Worcester and plan for him to be part of the starting rotation for the WooSox.

Winckowski was demoted to make room for Brayan Bello, who was activated from the 15-day IL to start against Washington.

Winckowski has worked mostly as a reliever since the beginning of 2023 (68 relief outings, four starts). He competed for one of the final two spots in the starting rotation during spring training, losing out to Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock. Winckowski began the regular season in Boston’s bullpen.

“This decision was based on the roster and what we feel we need right now to win as many games as possible right now, and obviously for him to be better,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said.

The Red Sox chose to demote Winckowski over righty Zack Kelly and lefties Brennan Bernardino and Cam Booser, all who began the season with Worcester and have minor league options.

“Love having the two lefties, and Zack is throwing the ball well,” Cora said. “I think (Winckowski will) benefit from going down there and work on his repertoire.”

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Winckowski had been on the active roster since the start of 2023. He was one of Boston’s top relievers last year, posting a 2.88 ERA in 60 outings.

“The message is go down there and work,” Cora said. “That’s the bottomline. Like I said, we’re much (more) talented than last year. And there’s going to be tough decisions. And there’s more tough decisions coming up. Over the five years (as manager), the message is a lot easier now. Kind of like, for us to be good, we have to be better in certain aspects. I know the numbers are the numbers from last year. But there’s a few things this year that he’s been off. He knows it. Obviously disappointed that he’s going to the minors, but we’ve all been through that. So just go down there and work. If he wants to come back here, then do the things that you have to do and the things you can control, and he’ll be back.”

The Red Sox want Winckowski to work on his breaking ball as a swing-and-miss pitch. He might work on a new pitch, but that hasn’t been determined.

“Something that separates his pitches,” Cora said. “I think everything blends together. His changeup is a hard one. The other stuff is kind of like from 92 to 96 (mph). Something that can be different than that is going to benefit him.”

Cora said Winckowski will be back at some point.

“He’s very talented,” Cora said. “He’s good. So he’ll start down there. We’ll put structure around him. At one point, he’s going to be back here. He’s going to contribute.”

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Boston’s Wilyer Abreu is second among AL rookies in fWAR and has 14 RBI during his rookie season.  Kevin M. Cox/Associated Press

WILYER ABREU crushed a 95.3 mph fastball from Nationals starter Jake Irvin 400 feet with a 106.5 mph exit velocity into the right-field stands during Boston’s 4-2 win on Saturday.

The 24-year-old right fielder has the third best odds (+650) to win AL Rookie of the Year, according to DraftKings. Only Orioles left fielder Colton Cowser (+120) and Rangers left fielder Evan Carter (+330) have better odds.

Is the award something Abreu is thinking about? Is winning it one of his goals?

“No, not really,” Abreu said through interperter Carlos Villoria Benítez before Saturday’s game. “To be honest with you, I just want to do my job. I just want to help the team win. At the end of the year, if the numbers are there and everything is there, I would welcome that. But it’s not a goal for me to win Rookie of the Year. Obviously I would welcome that.”

Abreu is second among AL rookies in fWAR (1.2) behind only Cowser (1.3). He has been an above average defender, with five defensive runs saved in 208 1/3 innings in right field.

“You have to be very focused here,” he said about playing defense in the majors. “I’m trying to not make any mental or physical errors. But I feel like when you put the work in, the results are going to come. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

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“Obviously, Fenway Park is one of the most difficult right fields I’ve ever played,” Abreu added. “You have to be focused. You have to know the dimensions and also you have to be quick in that first step. And that for me has been the key.”

Abreu is batting .284 with a .378 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage, .858 OPS, three homers, nine doubles, one triple, 14 RBI, 18 runs, five steals, 16 walks and 32 strikeouts in 33 games (119 plate appearances). He’s known for being very disciplined. He is in the 91st percentile among major league hitters in walk percentage (13.4%).

“I’m focused on one zone and one area of that strike zone,” Abreu said. “I’m looking for a pitch that I can do damage with. If that pitch is not in that area, in that zone, I just let it go.”

He walked in 14.7% of his 1,786 plate appearances in the minors.

“I think in the past, I swung at pitches I couldn’t do damage with and that produced weak contact,” Abreu said. “And I realized that is not a way for me to be productive for the team. So that’s something I’ve been learning throughout the years and with more experience. And what I’m focused on right now, as I said before, is try to get a pitch in the zone that I can do damage with. If it’s not there, I’ll let it go. But that’s something I learned throughout my minor league career.”


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