Brayan Bello named Red Sox 2024 Opening Day starting pitcher – Boston Herald

Even though many signs pointed to Brayan Bello getting the Opening Day nod, he thought Nick Pivetta would get the ball.

Then, Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow gave the 24-year-old right-hander the good news.

“I felt happy, super happy to be told that I was going to be the Opening Day starter,” Bello told reporters on Tuesday. “Yeah, I was surprised. I thought they were going to say that Nick Pivetta was going to be their Opening Day starter, so yeah, when they told me, I was super excited and surprised.”

Traditionally, the honor would go to a veteran like Pivetta, but the Red Sox are all-in on Bello. Earlier this month, they made his six-year, $55 million contract extension (with a club option for a seventh year) official during their weekend series in his native Dominican Republic. Bello was able to celebrate the life-changing deal with his loved ones, but not pitch in front of them.

Sacrificing that moment led to this one.

It’ll be Seattle, not Santo Domingo, but Opening Day will still be laden with meaning for Dominicans. Bello will be the first Dominican Red Sox starter to take the mound on Opening Day since his mentor, Pedro Martinez. Martinez has been Bello’s champion for years, telling the world that the young pitcher had Cy Young potential long before Bello began his first full season in the Majors last year. He’s even invited his protégé to train at his home in the DR throughout the past two offseasons. As a result, Bello arrived at camp this year with an upgraded slider.

Being the Opening Day starter was one of several goals Bello set for the upcoming season, and he set about proving himself by reporting to Fort Myers several weeks before pitchers and catchers were due on Feb. 13. He also made his priorities clear to management early on.

“When (Breslow) told me (today), he referred to a conversation that we had early in the spring when he asked me about if I’d rather pitch in the Dominican Republic or one of the first two games in Seattle,” Bello explained. “Obviously, I told him that I wanted to start one of the first two games in Seattle. So when he told me that, ‘Now, you earned it,’ that was something really nice to be told I was going to be the Opening Day starter.”

Bello will also be the first homegrown starter to take the mound for Red Sox Opening Day since Clay Buchholz in 2015, and the youngest since Aaron Sele in 1995. At 24 years and 316 days old, he’ll be the fourth-youngest Sox Opening Day starter in the last 85 seasons, just ahead of Sele (24 years, 305 days), Bill Monbouquette (24, 243 days) in 1961, and Dennis Eckersley (24, 184 days) in 1979.

Among Bello’s other goals? “To win 17 to 20 games (this season) and help my team win,” he said. “I always think big, I always set my bar really high.”

Crawford shines in latest spring training start

Spring training games don’t count, but it must be noted that Kutter Crawford has been excellent in them.

On Tuesday, he pitched 5 2/3 innings in Boston’s 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay, holding the visiting Rays to four hits, two earned runs, and striking out six. He’s now pitched 13 2/3 innings over four preseason games, and has yet to issue a walk.

With Lucas Giolito out for the season, Crawford has not only solidified his place in the starting rotation, but arguably moved into third in the order, behind Bello and Nick Pivetta.

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