Bard continues to struggle with command

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Bard continues to struggle with command

Daniel Bard has made nine starts this season, and still, the jury would seem to be out on when it comes to his suitability for the rotation.
On the one hand, Bard hasn't been blown out of any games. He's allowed just three homers, and even Wednesday, the Orioles hit no more than two or three balls hard against him all day.
But there's something about Bard that makes him look miscast. He seems to regularly be losing his release point, resulting in damaging lapses of control. Worse, he sometimes seems incapable of correcting the problem within the same inning, leading to long, drawn out innings that drive up his pitch count and drive manager Bobby Valentine crazy.
On Wednesday, Valentine and pitching coach Bob McClure suggested -- out of desperation more than anything else -- that Bard begin pitching out of the stretch, even with the bases empty. That sort of experimentation, however, is better suited for side sessions, or spring training outing.
Much has been made of Bard's precipitous decline in velocity, but that seems a natural outcome for a pitcher who has graduated from 20 or so pitches an outing to one who often throws more than 90.
More troubling is the command issue, which Bard can't seem to harness. He has now walked more hitters than he's struck out, which seems inconceivable with a pitcher who has the quality stuff that Bard boasts.
Nine starts is a significant enough sample size. As much as the Red Sox wanted this transition to work, perhaps it's time to table it when either Aaron Cook or Daisuke Matsuzaka are healthy enough to rejoin the staff.

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.