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Red Sox left-hander Brennan Bernardino is starting the season at Triple-A Worcester. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
Red Sox left-hander Brennan Bernardino is starting the season at Triple-A Worcester. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

WORCESTER — If you’d tried to name everyone in the Red Sox bullpen who was seemingly a lock to make the Opening Day roster, Brennan Bernardino certainly would have been among them. The 32-year-old was Boston’s top left-handed reliever throughout last season, and after posting a perfect 0.00 ERA through seven spring appearances he’d given no reason to believe his job was in any kind of jeopardy.

Yet when it came time to make the final roster cuts at the end of camp, Bernardino was shockingly demoted.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the decision to option Bernardino to Triple-A was largely roster driven — fellow lefty Joely Rodriguez had to be added to the big league roster or he’d become a free agent, and Bernardino had minor league options remaining. Yet even if it wasn’t a reflection of his performance, the move was a bitter disappointment for Bernardino, who was one of last season’s greatest success stories.

“It is what it is, I’m trying my best to be in the best form I can be in so whenever that phone does ring I can do my job,” Bernardino said prior to Tuesday’s WooSox home opener.

Chad Tracy, the WooSox manager, said Bernardino has handled the setback remarkably well. He called the lefty “an incredible human being” and expressed confidence that his stay in Worcester won’t be long.

“I’m sure he was disappointed like any of us would be, but we had him here before, he knows and we expressed to him when he got here we’re going to do everything we can to get you off on the right foot and get you back there,” Tracy said. “He wants to get back, so yes there’s disappointment with all of them when that happens, especially when you think you’re going to make the club. But then their instinct kicks in, I’ve got to get back to work because I want to get back, but he’s been incredible since he’s been back down here.”

The WooSox opened their season by taking two out of three against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and during that series Bernardino appeared in one game, throwing a scoreless inning in the club’s season-opening loss on Friday. Even if he’d prefer to be with the big league club, Bernardino said he’s excited for the new season and is striving to improve no matter where he is.

“I’m just trying to get my stuff as tight as I can, my breaking ball, my cutter, fastball, try to get ahead of counts, just be the best I can be,” Bernardino said. “So really nothing’s changed, I’m just trying to be the best I can be no matter where I’m at.”