Cherington, Valentine still determining Bard's role

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Cherington, Valentine still determining Bard's role

DALLAS -- As the Red Sox determine the market for both starting pitchers and closers, they may have an answer to one of those needs already on their roster.

Daniel Bard, who's pitched in a set-up capacity the last two seasons, could be moved from the role to the rotation or to the closer's spot in the ninth inning.

Or, the Sox could leave Bard where he is and where he's flourished -- except for a miserable September.

"We're still talking about it," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Bobby (Valentine) wants to have a conversation with Daniel. There's always the chance that it isn't determined now, but later on, or in spring training. We certainly want to give Daniel a chance to prepare for spring training in the right way, so we'll figure that out."

"It's a factor weighing against different opportunities that out there, (as it relates to) acquiring this pitcher or that pitcher. I don't think (the decision) has to be made now. I think we have to talk about how to prepare for spring training, and that's something we'll need to do pretty soon. But I don't think we need to have his role completely defined.''

Cherington allowed that Bard's role "relates some to decisions we make this off-season. If someone's in one role, it leads to pursuing something else. Or more likely, depending on what we think is available at a better value, then that could influence what we ask (Bard) to do.''

The Sox have had internal discussions about how they view Bard and have had conversations with him, "listening to him, what he believes and his level of conviction on what he can do.''

Cherington has added that Bard has expressed his choice for his role in 2012, though the general manager added: "I'm not going to be the one to say that right now. But he expressed a desire.''

Bobby Valentine told NESN that he thought Bard expressed a desire to start over close, but Bard cleared up those comments: "I really didn't give an actual preference," Bard said via text message to ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald. "I did make it very clear to them that I have no reservations about moving to the rotation. I told them I'd take any role they choose to give me and run with it, whether that's starting or closing. I guess by making it clear that I would be willing to start may have made it seem like a preference, but I just want to make it clear that I felt like I could thrive in either role."

One issue remains: if the Sox move Bard into the rotation or into the closer's job, there's no one on the current roster who has proven as adept as Bard in the so-called high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings.

That means that the Sox could well fill one need on the staff -- and create another.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”