Last year, Justin Germano was the Opening Day starter for the Pawtucket Red Sox and picked up the first win of the season against the Buffalo Bisons.
On Thursday, he will be in a Bisons uniform. Manager Marty Brown named Germano the Opening Day starter when against the Rochester Red Wings at 2:05 p.m. at Coca-Cola Field.
“That’s probably more [interesting] for you,” Germano said Tuesday afternoon as the Bisons held their first workouts in Buffalo. “I’m with a new team every year, so I’m kind of used to that. … It’s always an honor to get that first start out there and to try and get the season off right. Everything just falls into place after that but to being able to get that Opening Day is a good start.”
Germano was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. In 2012, he started with Pawtucket and earned a spot on the International League All-Star Team. He went 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA with Pawtucket in 17 games, 16 of them starts.
But Germano didn’t make the trip to Buffalo. He was called up to Boston before the game, and pitched one game for the Red Sox before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-10 with a 6.75 ERA in 13 games for the Cubs, with 12 starts.
His most memorable outing came for Columbus when he threw a perfect game on July 26, 2011, the fifth perfect game in International League history.
The 30-year-old Germano was pleased with his spring training, noting that he was able to work on different pitches without regard to the count or situation.
“I thought it went well. Number-wise, it probably wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I got some good work in,” Germano said. “I got some things done I wanted to before the season started.
“It’s just consistency. Keeping the ball down. Getting the off-speed pitches where I want them. Just little things like that. I was throwing pitches in spring training that I wouldn’t necessarily throw in certain counts during the regular season, but I wanted to get that work in. I went into it thinking I was going to work on specific things regardless of what the count or situation was. I needed to get it out of the way before the season started.”
Germano has a 10-30 career Major League record for five teams. In Triple-A, he is 48-36 with a 3.61 ERA.
And while the goal is to get back to the big leagues, his experience is going to be a boost for the Herd.
“He didn’t have a great spring as a veteran-type guy but he mixed his four pitches,” Brown said. “He knows how to throw strikes. … Justin is the type of guy who has been through it before. … I know he’s motivated to come to the park every day. His motivation is to get back to the big leagues but I think him coming to the park every day with his veteran status, even though he’s not an old player but he’s been through Triple-A before. He knows how to pitch and I think he’s motivated to get back to the big leagues.”
The starting rotation for the Herd was also announced Tuesday. Ramon Ortiz, who went 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, will start Friday. The series moves to Rochester for Saturday and Sunday with Claudio Bargans and Dave Bush scheduled to start. Todd Redmond will be the fifth starter, getting the nod for the April 9 game in Buffalo against Syracuse.
It’s a pitching staff that Germano is excited to be a part of.
“We have some guys who have been around and have some experience out there,” Germano said. “I don’t think anyone is really going to overpower anybody but being able to throw strikes is a big part of this game. We’ve got that good defense behind us and that’s going to win some ball games.”
P.J. Walters is scheduled to start for Rochester. The 28-year-old will be making his second straight Opening Day start for the Red Wings, having thrown four shutout innings last year against Syracuse. Walters went 3-3 with a 4.01 ERA in 14 starts for Rochester last season.
In Bisons roster news, infielder Adam Loewen was promoted to the Herd from Double-A New Hampshire after Toronto traded Lars Anderson to the Chicago White Sox on Monday. Loewen, 28, played 59 games with the Bisons last season and hit .227 (47-207) with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 26 runs batted in. He missed 61 games on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his right foot.