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Brennan Bernardino

Brennan Bernardino caps long road to Boston Red Sox

Bernardino makes most of chance with Red Sox

HOUSTON-Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher Brennan Bernardino has had quite the journey to the big leagues. He credits his father, Danny for showing him the sport he truly enjoys playing.

Bernardino started playing baseball with his dad, who was a huge baseball fan. Danny played baseball growing up, and he passed his love of the sport to his son.

“I started to watch games with my dad,” Brennan Bernardino said. “Next thing you know, I just wanted to play baseball.”

Bernardino has traveled and played in four different countries to keep his baseball career alive. The native of Valencia, Calif., has played for teams in the United States, Canada, Venezuela and Mexico.

Circuitous route  

The 6-foot-4 left-hander was drafted in the 26th round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2014 out of Cal State Dominguez Hills. He is only the 10th player from Cal State Dominguez Hills to reach the majors.

After spending four seasons in the Reds’ farm system, he was released. Bernardino then played with four different teams in four countries.

He started with the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the Independent League. Then he played for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. Then he joined the Cleveland Guardians’ Double A Akron RubberDucks.  Lastly he played two stints (2019, 2021) with the Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League.

It was difficult for Bernardino to be financially stable during that time. The Mexican American pitcher didn’t make a lot of money in the minor leagues. So, he looked into a second job, becoming a Lyft driver.

“My wife and I had our son when we were in college, and I was just grinding,” he said. “Going through pro ball you don’t get paid much in the minor leagues and in the offseason. I had a car and I needed a job with good hours so that I could work around my schedule.”

A new home in Boston

After traveling around the world and giving rideshares, Bernardino finally got the call to the big leagues for his MLB debut at 30-years-old with the Seattle Mariners.

The Valencia, Calif., native made two appearances with the M’s in 2022. In the beginning of the 2023 season, Bernardino was designated for assignment. The Boston Red Sox claimed him off waivers, and a new chapter began.

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“We got him early in the season and we didn’t know what to expect,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bernardino. “At that moment, he wasn’t a part of the equation. It was just a guy that we needed to fill the roster spot and now he is a part of the equation. 

“You look at him around the clubhouse and he’s always looking for information. His story is unique. For him to do the things that he’s doing right now at the big league level, I have to tip my hat to him.”

In 43 appearances, the 31-year-old rookie carries a 2.55 ERA with 49 strikeouts and a 10.4 strikeout rate per nine innings (K/9).

Brennan Bernardino finds mentors in Boston

Bernardino’s goal is to finish his baseball career in the big leagues. As of now, he has a great group of teammates he can look up to, starting with veteran closer Kenley Jansen.

Jansen is a four-time All-Star and a 2020 World Series champion. The 35-year-old has collected 420 career saves. He’s two saves away from tying Billy Wagner (422) and four saves away from tying John Franco for fifth all-time in saves in MLB history.

“I learned a lot,” Bernardino said of Jansen. “A lot of the stuff that we talk about is the brain. It’s the mind, it’s mental. I’ve learned a lot from him about the mental side of the game.”

Bernardino was placed on the Injury List on Sunday. Nonetheless, he continues to learn and grow in his second year of his big league career. 

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