All-Star pitchers taking note of Bard's control problems

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All-Star pitchers taking note of Bard's control problems

KANSAS CITY -- Daniel Bard is about as far away from the All-Star Game as a player can be -- in the minors, struggling to overcome his increasingly major control problems.

But that doesn't mean that Bard isn't off the radar of some players here.

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez has been highly critical of the Red Sox' treatment of Bard.

"Reliever, starter . . . reliever, starter," said Perez. "As a pitcher, all you want is to know your roll. He's a tremendous set-up-slash-closer guy. Just leave him there. Obviously, starting pitchers are more valuable, they pitch more and innings and all that. But he had control problems when he first started (in the minors), didn't he? And then they moved him to the pen. It was done and he was nasty. And then back to starting and he did alright in the beginning.

"Now, it's back to no control. You'd have ask to him, but I think part (of the problems) are not feeling comfortable, obviously. Put him back in that eighth inning role and he's a monster."

Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale took something of a similar path to the big leagues as Bard. A first-round pick in 2010, Sale made 79 appearances in relief for the White Sox in 2010 and 2011 before being shifted to the rotation this year.

Unlike Bard, he made the transition seem almost seamless. In 15 first-half starts with Chicago, he was 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA, earning a spot on the A.L. All-Star squad.

"I've paid attention to (Bard's struggles," said Sale. "He's a great pitcher. He's got electric stuff. He'll figure it out. It's one of those things that sometimes takes some time to get ahold of. But he'll get there."

Sale has dealt with the different physical demands that come with starting and the mental adjustments, too.

"You come out of the bullpen and it's grip-and-rip," he said. "You're going 100 percent focus and maybe 110-percent effort. As a starter, maybe your effort level is toned down so you have something there in the later innings when you need it."

Perez was unaware that Bard has been dealing with what players call "The Thing" -- the sudden inability to throw the ball over the plate.

"Like Rick Ankiel?" asked Perez, wincing at that the thought, referring to the former St. Louis Cardinals lefty who suffered from the same malady several seasons ago and became an outfielder. "That's what he was doing when he (first) signed. I've been facing him since college. He was at North Carolina and I was at Miami, so I kind of followed him. Now, it's back to that.

"It's obviously something mental. I feel bad for him. My heart goes out to him. Obviously, he knows how to throw a baseball. It's a mental block. It sucks. It's hard enough when you're on and making pitches. But to have that anxiety of, 'Oh, God . . . I don't want to hit this guy.' It's a harsh cycle to break. But he did it once, so he can do it. He's just got to find some confidence somewhere.

"Luckily, I haven't been there. I hope I never get there. But it sucks."

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.