Sox looking for late-inning arms to replace Bard


Sox looking for late-inning arms to replace Bard

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If Daniel Bard is as successful as he hopes in making the transition from bullpen to starting rotation, the Red Sox will have to find someone else to handle the high-leverage innings that Bard handled so well for the last 2 12 seasons.

There are a number of candidates, including right-hander Mark Melancon, who has late-inning experience with the Houston Astros.

But manager Bobby Valentine isn't showing his hand when it comes to his bullpen plans.

"I think the talent will dictate that,'' said Valentine. "I don't have a puzzle that I'm trying to fit pieces into; I'm going to take the pieces and make the puzzle. We'll see what we have.''

Among the candidates for Bard's old role: Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers.

Aceves could either start or take over Bard in the set-up role.

"He can do either or,'' said Valentine. "We'll see how that plays out and see how his health plays out. He was very healthy last year. He looks in great shape right now. He's a very determined pitcher and athlete.

"Those innings (last year) -- 90 valuable innings is pretty valuable in meaningful ballgames.''

One problem could arise if both Bard and Aceves become starters is the Red Sox will have to somehow find a way to replace almost 165 innings.

"It's a concern,'' admitted Valentine, "but I don't what else there is. We'll have to see what the other members of this 2012 version can do. When we can see what they can do and how they fit into place, we'll know if we're adding or subtracting from last year or if we're building something totally different and new.''

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.