It was exactly what Tanner Houck was hoping for after dipping his toes in the major league waters at the tail-end of the 2020 season.

Throughout December and January, the Red Sox rookie pitcher immersed himself into workouts with the likes of Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard at Cressey Sports Performance-Florida.

"Honestly, for me I would say 100 percent that being around those guys, being around such elite competition, I wouldn’t say there are a lot of good stories because a lot of it is just, ‘Hey, we’re here to get our stuff done, our work done and push our bodies and truly push ourselves to better ourselves for the upcoming season.’ A lot of it for me is putting myself around bigger fish," Houck said while appearing on The Live BP Baseball Show. "You never want to be the biggest fish in the pond, which is what I think the saying is. Just continuing to be around elite competition like that and also coming here and being around Sale, Eovaldi, Eddie is another one. Just being around those guys is so much easier to pick up stuff and learn and what they’ve done and how they have had success. Out of that group that we mentioned there is a ton of elite talent that everyone can recognize no matter who you’re a fan of."

Really excited to see how Houck builds on his impressive debut. 17IP/1ER/21k in late September (of a pandemic year) could be misleading but doing it against playoff teams still in a scrum for position was definitely a nice start. He obviously had some good company to learn from over the winter.