All-Star pitchers taking note of Bard's control problems

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All-Star pitchers taking note of Bard's control problems

KANSAS CITY -- Daniel Bard is about as far away from the All-Star Game as a player can be -- in the minors, struggling to overcome his increasingly major control problems.

But that doesn't mean that Bard isn't off the radar of some players here.

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez has been highly critical of the Red Sox' treatment of Bard.

"Reliever, starter . . . reliever, starter," said Perez. "As a pitcher, all you want is to know your roll. He's a tremendous set-up-slash-closer guy. Just leave him there. Obviously, starting pitchers are more valuable, they pitch more and innings and all that. But he had control problems when he first started (in the minors), didn't he? And then they moved him to the pen. It was done and he was nasty. And then back to starting and he did alright in the beginning.

"Now, it's back to no control. You'd have ask to him, but I think part (of the problems) are not feeling comfortable, obviously. Put him back in that eighth inning role and he's a monster."

Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale took something of a similar path to the big leagues as Bard. A first-round pick in 2010, Sale made 79 appearances in relief for the White Sox in 2010 and 2011 before being shifted to the rotation this year.

Unlike Bard, he made the transition seem almost seamless. In 15 first-half starts with Chicago, he was 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA, earning a spot on the A.L. All-Star squad.

"I've paid attention to (Bard's struggles," said Sale. "He's a great pitcher. He's got electric stuff. He'll figure it out. It's one of those things that sometimes takes some time to get ahold of. But he'll get there."

Sale has dealt with the different physical demands that come with starting and the mental adjustments, too.

"You come out of the bullpen and it's grip-and-rip," he said. "You're going 100 percent focus and maybe 110-percent effort. As a starter, maybe your effort level is toned down so you have something there in the later innings when you need it."

Perez was unaware that Bard has been dealing with what players call "The Thing" -- the sudden inability to throw the ball over the plate.

"Like Rick Ankiel?" asked Perez, wincing at that the thought, referring to the former St. Louis Cardinals lefty who suffered from the same malady several seasons ago and became an outfielder. "That's what he was doing when he (first) signed. I've been facing him since college. He was at North Carolina and I was at Miami, so I kind of followed him. Now, it's back to that.

"It's obviously something mental. I feel bad for him. My heart goes out to him. Obviously, he knows how to throw a baseball. It's a mental block. It sucks. It's hard enough when you're on and making pitches. But to have that anxiety of, 'Oh, God . . . I don't want to hit this guy.' It's a harsh cycle to break. But he did it once, so he can do it. He's just got to find some confidence somewhere.

"Luckily, I haven't been there. I hope I never get there. But it sucks."

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.