Bard solid in Sox win, wants to pitch deeper into games

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Bard solid in Sox win, wants to pitch deeper into games

BOSTON Facing the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner, Daniel Bard showed little sign of intimidation. He also tried to avoid thinking of his counterpart in the game.

I think you kind of try to avoid that as a starter, Bard said. You know hes going to give you a battle but I dont have to hit off him so thats a good thing. Hes also facing the best offense in the league, in my opinion. So I knew that Im just going to try to keep us in it for three or four and I knew one of those innings we were going to get to him and when we got up to 4-0 or 4-1 you're kind of like OK this is our game.

"I just got to settle in and keep doing what Im doing. But its nice to get a little breathing room. You dont expect it against a guy like him. You expect its going to be 1-1, 0-0 til late in the game. It was good that we could get some runs off him.

Bard went 5 13 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts and a hit batter as the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 6-3, for the second straight.

The win got the Sox over .500 for the first time this season in their seventh try. It also brought Bards record to .500, at 5-5, with a 4.56 ERA. The Sox are 4-5 in games Bard starts (he got the win April 23, pitching two-thirds of an inning in relief in Minnesota).

This is big for our team. Bard said. In the grand scheme its just one game but to do it against the guy thats the reigning MVP, and Cy Young, I mean, thats, if nothing else, good for our confidence to know that no matter who the other teams running out there on a given day weve got a good chance to beat him. So hes still one of the best and we just got the hits when we needed them.

The two runs Bard allowed came on solo home runs one by Jhonny Peralta in the fifth, and by Prince Fielder into the right field seats to lead off the sixth.

It was the first time in his career Bard has given up a home run in three straight games, and just the third time hes given up two home runs in a game. He gave up two home runs in Yankee Stadium on Aug. 9, 2009, and to the Tigers on May 19, 2011.

As long as they're solo home runs and not coming too often, thats a lot better way to give up runs than grinding through an inning, 20, 30 pitches, Bard said. At least that kind of gets it out of the way.

Bard would like to be going deeper into games, though.

I understand manager Bobby Valentine being conservative with me the last couple because the walks have been an issue coming into this one and I see where his minds at, Bard said. I just wanted him to know that I want to be out there and be going six, seven innings a start. Im not satisfied with this 5 13 stuff. Its kind of weird.

"My last two outings Ive been pulled at 5 13 after a strikeout with the bases empty. And with a pitch count thats pretty reasonable both times in the low 90s, so I get where hes coming from and typically I have struggled as I get deeper in the game. But I just told him, I made it clear as respectfully as I could that Im ready to start finishing those innings. I dont need to be treated like a kid anymore. He said 'alright I want you to finish those innings', so I think were on the same page.

Bards four strikeouts were the most hes recorded in an outing since six in his third start on April 27 against the White Sox in Chicago.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.