Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

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Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

PAWTUCKET, R.I. It would have been understandable if Daniel Bard had chosen not to speak to the media after his outing Monday night. Not appreciated, but understood. After all, its not the easiest thing to go back to the minor leagues when you were formerly a lights-out pitcher (albeit, in an entirely different role) in the big leagues.

Instead, Bard, was loquacious in his answers, explaining, among other things, what he is trying to accomplish with Triple-A Pawtucket since his demotion June 7 and the decision to not start Monday night as originally planned, working out of the pen instead.

Q: How do you look at your outings here, measuring what youre trying to accomplish?
Bard: Yeah, I think the nice thing about being down here is that the wins and losses arent quite as important and you can really focus on getting the work in and kind of look at the process more than the result, which is harder to focus on when youre up there pitching for Boston. That wouldnt allow me to do that.

Q: Why the decision to not start Monday?
Bard: I just told them after that last one Friday I said that starting with the intention of going one inning just felt really strange. I mean, it felt like a very manufactured situation, didnt feel like I was really part of a baseball game. So I just told them , I said Im all good with the short stints closer together. I think thats a good way to get back on track. But I dont see, if were trying to go with more of a bullpen feel, which is kind of what they talked to me about when we get through this and then translate to starting, I said why dont we just do it out of the bullpen? So, I told them lets just do that. And they were ok with it, with the intent of doing this a few times and like I said, translating back to starting.

Q: What do you think of your outing Monday against the Gwinnett Braves?
Bard: It took me two batters I think to really get locked into an arm slot. I was a little bit low, lower than I would like on those first couple hitters and you saw some balls running away from me. And then I make the adjustment and I think pitched pretty well to those last three guys. So the nice thing is I can focus on that and say I wasnt perfect but it doesnt matter. I was locked in, I got something good to walk away with those last three hitters.

Q: What did you think of your fastball and slider?
Bard: Fastball was good, got better as the inning went on. I think a lot of it is just the level of conviction that Im throwing it with and that got better as the inning went on. So thats all I can ask, because sometimes the slider kind of locks me back in. If Im missing with the fastball, throw a couple sliders and then throw the fastball off of that. So its kind of what I did tonight.

Q: The decision to not start makes people think youll eventually be back in bullpen for the Red Sox. What are your thoughts on that?
Bard: Thats fine. People are going to think whatever they want. I think its not a secret that Ive had success out of the bullpen. I think its no secret that thats where Im most comfortable the adrenaline rush that comes with it, the added pressure of getting loose quick and everything, thats where Im comfortable. Still while we can say that, I think we still have to say Im not ready to give up on starting. I think, like I said after the Toronto outing before I even knew I was getting optioned, was that we, I think, we had changed too many things to try to become a starting pitcher rather than take the same pitcher Ive been the last three or four years and put that guy in a starting role. So I think this is a good first step in that process.

Q: How much of what youre trying to accomplish down here is related to confidence and how much is physical?
Bard: Well, I dont think, confidence is not an issue at all. I think it was I mechanically got out of whack my last I dont want to say my last few starts because I felt really good against Detroit May 29 and that wasnt that long ago. It was maybe 10 or 11, 12 days ago. So I dont think confidence is an issue. My mechanics needed to get back in check. Ill be the first to admit it and this wouldn't have been my first choice of how to fix it but thats what they decided for me and Im trying to make the best of it. So, obviously getting sent down to Triple A is a little bit of a reality check for you and you try not to let it affect your confidence because I know how good of a pitcher I am and how good I can be. So just using it as an opportunity to work on some stuff and in a lower-pressure environment.

Q: Whats next in the process?
Bard: I think well do, I dont think theres a number put on anything but probably another one or two of these type outings. Maybe go two innings if I have a quick first inning, kind of thing, just to really get that feel back. If the next two or three go really well, well look from there and see where the needs are.

Q: It would seem that a one-inning outing is like starting from square one?
Bard: Not really. I think its just, I think I could have just gone to the obviously the way the roster was set up at the time, probably could have just gone to the bullpen and gotten two or three outings in the big leagues and missed a start maybe. But we didnt have a lot of roster flexibility. Its nobodys fault. Its just how it is. So Im getting that same work in down here.

Q: How is that different from making starts for Pawtucket?
Bard: Well I think it wasnt, it just kind of points to how its allowing me to get my delivery to where Im comfortable, where I want it to be. And if theyre sending me out there every five days for 90, 100 pitches, if it doesnt go how we want, if I dont feel the way I want to feel, then were kind of wasting five days, instead of if I went out there tonight and didnt like how I felt, then screw it, we wasted one day, 20 pitches and I come back in three days and I can try to correct it. Tonight felt good. I think it was not perfect but like I said we can focus on the process. Tonight I think it was a good step in the right direction.

His post-game session wrapped, Bard thanked the handful of writers, then wished us a good night. Gracious and loquacious.

Sounds like Moncada will join Red Sox on Thursday

Sounds like Moncada will join Red Sox on Thursday

BOSTON - Without saying so directly, John Farrell broadly hinted that the Red Sox appear ready to call up Yoan Moncada as rosters expand from the current 25-man limit Thursday.

Farrell first noted that the Red Sox "need better production'' at third base, where both Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill have struggled mightily at the position.

Moncada, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third base earlier this month at Double A Portland. Moncada has a slash line of .285/.388/.547 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 44 games.

Asked specifically about the chances of a call-up for Moncada, Farrell said: "We've talked about Yoan. And not just as a pinch-runner. It's an exciting young player, an extremely talented guy. There's all positive reviews and evaluations of him.

"When that major league experience is going to initiate, time will tell that. But in terms of playing the position of third base [in the big leagues], that conversation has been had.''

Previously, the Red Sox had resisted bringing Moncada to the big leagues, worried that he wouldn't be in the lineup often enough to continue his development. The Sox didn't want him to miss out on additional experience in the minors by playing only part-time in the majors.

But now that the minor league seasons are about to end -- Portland finishes Labor Day -- there's nothing in the minors for Moncada to miss.

"This is a different scenario than if it were July or early August,'' said Farrell. "The minor league season ends [soon], so is there benefit to him just being here? The answer to that is yes. Do you weigh playing 'X' number of games per week versus what he could be doing at Portland or Pawtucket? Well, that goes away [with the minor league regular seasons end].

"So, again, by all accounts, there's nothing but positives that could come out of experience here -- if that were to happen.''

 Moncada's promotion would be similar to the one experience by Xander Bogaerts in 2013, who was brought up in the final week of August 2013 and remained with the club all the way through the end of the team's World Series run that fall, taking playing time from struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

 "For those who have been around this team for a number of years,'' said Farrell, "teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team through the postseason. I think Yoan would be in a similar category to when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], when Jake [Jacoby Ellsbury] came into the picture. And Andrew (Benintendi) is already here, so I wouldn't separate [Moncada] out from that at all.

"In fact, he's a direct comparison [to those cases].’’

Farrell agreed that the arrival of a young, highly-touted player can inject some energy into a team in the throes of a pennant race.

"Absolutely, there is,'' said Farrell. "You've got a newness element. You've got, likely, above-average speed. You've got athleticism. You've got the unknown across the field on how does a given [opposing] team attack a given guy.

"In the cases we've talked about, it has been beneficial to us for the young player to come up. They find a way to contribute in a meaningful role. 

Without saying that [Moncada's promotion] is a definite, there's a lot [of positives]going for it.''

Farrell also acknowledged that the Sox have already held internal discussions about how Moncada would be utilized, given that the switch-hitter has been far more productive from the left side of the plate.

"We've talked about what's strong side, how do you look to best ease him in, so to speak,'' said Farrell. "We thought that with Benintendi, how do we best ease him in. Well, he blew the doors off of that one [with his early success]. So, if it happens, and if begins here soon, you'll all be aware.''

Farrell said the reports of Moncada's transition to third base have been encouraging despite three errors in his first nine games there.

"He's shown good range, an above-average arm,'' said Farrell. "Where there will be ongoing work and continued development, just as there was at second base, is the ball hit straight at him. That's just pure technique and fundamental positioning with hands and feet.

"But as far as range to his glove side, moving to third base, that seemingly has not been that big of a challenge for him.''

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Wright, Sox try to salvage 3-3 homestand

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Wright, Sox try to salvage 3-3 homestand

The Red Sox try to end their short homestand at 3-3 and take two of three from the last-place Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale this afternoon at Fenway Park.

Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18 ERA), who allowed five first-inning runs to the Kansas Royals in his last start - his first since coming off the disabled list - is on the mound for the Red Sox. Left-hander Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80) starts for the Rays.

The Red Sox begin a nine-game road trip to Oakland, San Diego and Toronto on Friday night. 

The lineups:

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier 2B

Evan Longoria 3B

Brad Miller DH

Nick Franklin RF

Logan Morrison 1B

Tim Beckham SS

Corey Dickerson LF

Bobby Wilson C

Drew Smyly LHP

 

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Sandy Leon C

Chris Young LF

Aaron Hill 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF