DUNEDIN, Fla. — Right-hander Justin Germano has been down this road before. It’s a bumpy one and no one can ever be sure where it ends.
Germano, who’s played parts of six seasons in the majors, is in training camp this year with the Boston Red Sox as a non-roster invitee. He started and threw a pair of shutout innings Wednesday in a 3-all tie with Toronto.
The game was halted after nine innings because the split-squad Blue Jays were short on players. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run single that put Toronto ahead 3-1 in the third, but shortstop Omar Vizquel’s throwing error on Juan Carlos Linares’ grounder with two outs in the fourth gave the Red Sox two runs.
Non-roster players don’t often make the 25-man roster in training camp, “but I made the (Cleveland Indians) last year as a non-roster invite, so I know it’s possible,” Germano said.
A spot starter with San Diego and Cincinnati in the past, the Indians converted him to a relief role.
“If you go out there and make a good impression, anybody’s got a chance,” he said.
Germano could be among the four or five — or more — pitchers vying for the fifth spot in the Red Sox starting rotation or for a bullpen berth. The crowd of potential starters “is good for a person like me. I can do both,” he said.
“I’ve made it clear I’m not just set on starting,” he said.
Valentine offered some hope.
“Coming out of spring training I really look for 10 starting pitchers and a whole bunch of relievers,” Valentine said. “I think he’s very usable in a starting role. I don’t know whether he’s going to be on our team breaking camp, but he could.”
Germano had to struggle a bit in the first inning when he gave up a leadoff single to Vizquel and hit Jose Bautista with a pitch. With runners on first and third and two outs Colby Rasmus grounded out. Germano set the side down in order in the second.
“He settled in in the second,” Valentine said. “Obviously (he was) better than in the first. He was up a little in the strike zone early.”
Germano said a few teams expressed an interest in him during the offseason but the Red Sox wanted to see his potential as a starter while the others were considering him “only for depth as a reliever.”
“There really was no motive to go knowing you weren’t going to make the team. The opportunity was here, and the chance to be part of this organization, I couldn’t pass that up,” he said.
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow pitched one-hit ball for two innings. Facing an opponent for the first time “felt good, felt on time with my body and mechanics.”
“I wasn’t rushing. I thought I threw the ball well,” he said.
Singles by Lars Anderson and Kelly Shoppach in the Boston fourth and a wild pitch by Francisco Cordero put runners on second and third with two outs. Vizquel fielded Linares’ grounder and threw low to first, the ball skipping past Encarnacion.
Ryan Sweeney’s sacrifice fly in the third inning gave Boston the early lead. Encarnacion’s two-run single put the Blue Jays ahead in the bottom half.
NOTES: With John Farrell at Bradenton Wednesday for the Blue Jays’ split-squad game against Pittsburgh, bench coach Don Wakamatsu managed Toronto against the Red Sox. … Josh Beckett will start Thursday for Boston against St. Louis. … Brett Cecil will start for the Blue Jays against Ivan Nova and the Yankees on Thursday. … Red Sox LHP Jon Lester pitched three scoreless innings in a “B” game against Minnesota. Boston won 4-1. Lester gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two. This was his second straight this spring, the other coming against Northeastern. “Just trying to mix everything in,” he said. “I threw a lot of changeups today, which was good. Any time I’m able to do that it always helps me in the future. So it was good. There were a couple of good sinkers, down and away from righties.”