It may seem counterintuitive -- and Drake Britton still can’t quite figure it out -- but an unexpected conversation with a hitting coach inexorably altered his pitching career with the Red Sox.

Britton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefthander, was eating an early breakfast alone in Class-A Salem’s team hotel in Winston-Salem, N.C., one morning last year in the first few days of May.

He hadn’t been able to sleep the night before -- same as the night before and the night before that. He had endured a disastrous 2011 season in Salem, going 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA, after starting the year as the organization’s No. 3 prospect, according to Baseball America. And he was scuffling around in 2012 with a 1-3 record and 10.71 ERA.

During breakfast, Rich Gedman, the team’s hitting coach, appeared “out of nowhere” and asked if he could join Britton.

“The conversation just happened from there,” Britton said. “He told me instead of worrying about my personal stats and where I want to be and things like that, just go out and pitch with the mentality that I’m going to give my team the best opportunity to win.”