Bard could be odd-man out of rotation

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Bard could be odd-man out of rotation

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The makeup of the Red Sox starting rotation is, publicly at least, anyone's guess, with a handful of candidates still in contention for the fourth and fifth spots.

But there's evidence that suggests the rotation is coming into somewhat sharper focus, at least in the eyes of the people making the decisions.

One Red Sox staff member has told others outside the organization that, when all is said and done, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront will have spots in the rotation, with Daniel Bard returning to the bullpen.

It had been assumed that Bard would be given every opportunity to nail down the No. 4 spot. But after two sharp, shorter outings earlier in the Grapefruit League schedule, Bard has struggled over his last two outings, walking seven hitters and allowing 10 hits in 7 23 innings.

On Tuesday night, about an hour after Bard had expressed satisfaction that he had taken a step forward, Valentine, in his post-game remarks, did seemingly everything he could to question Bard's suitability for the rotation.

He wondered aloud why Bard threw exactly one changeup among his 83 pitches.

"Hes got to understand that pitch,'' said Valentine. "It could really be that pitch that gets the contact when we need some soft contact situations."

He later noted that Bard's 83 pitches were "too many'' over five innings, introducing questions about the righthander's efficiency.

He expressed concern with Bard's control issues.

"I dont think that even with his good stuff I could handle the walks," said Valentine. "Now I dont know if theyre (the result of it being) spring and trying to impress. Thats why I looked for the changeup. If theres a pitch that he wasnt comfortable with and that was causing some of these negative counts, I would have been able to use that as an excuse.

"I dont know. Its hard. This isnt an exact science and I dont proclaim to have the exact answer or the right answer in this short sampling. Its tough. Well figure it out."

Across Florida, a number of scouts have made the observation that they think the Sox would be better off with Bard back in his customary eighth inning role.

One noted Bard is seen more as a "thrower'' rather than a complete pitcher.

Ironically, one Red Sox executive noted before spring training that it would "difficult but not impossible'' for the Sox to transition two relievers to the rotation in the same season, noting that there would be workload concerns and the challenge of replacing more than 160 bullpen innings from 2011.

All along, it appeared that would make Aceves the odd-man out. Now, there are growing hints that it could be Bard.

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.