When manager Bobby Valentine joined the Red Sox, Atchison was simply thought of as a long man in Boston's bullpen.
"When I was putting the bullpen together, the one thing I knew he had was some length in him, able to throw 45 pitches and give us a couple, three innings," Valentine said. "I didn't really have that in anyone else. In the beginning, that's what he was doing, and when he was pitching his two-plus innings, he was getting everyone out."
Two months into the season, Atchison has progressed beyond that singular role.
"He obviously now elevated himself to where he's a right-hander who I think I could count on to get right-handers and left-handers out," Valentine said. "He had a save situation today. He [could have] pitched three innings, but if I pitch him three innings, then I lose him for tomorrow. That's kind of defeating the purpose to giving him a save. He said with the 30 [pitches], he could come back tomorrow."
Atchison agrees that he can do more than just fill innings. Coming off his best performance of the year with four strikeouts in two innings, the Red Sox could rely on him more and more in high-leverage situations.
"I feel like I can do any of those things and pitch in those roles," Atchison said, "and that's kind of how they're using me. If some righties are coming up, bring me in. If it's a long situation, I can stretch it out, too. I'm ready for whatever situation."
In 19 appearances this season, Atchison has given up three runs on 11 hits over 12 1/3 innings. He appeared in 17 games a year ago, allowing 11 runs over 30 1/3 innings.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.