Bard: 'I was a little bewildered'

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Bard: 'I was a little bewildered'

BOSTON It was an outing that left Daniel Bard bewildered. Losing to the American Leagues worst offense, thats easy to understand.Bard went 5 13 innings, giving up four runs, tying a season high with eight hits allowed, two walks, a season-low one strikeout, and a hit batter. He threw 101 pitches, 60 for strikes, raising his ERA from 3.72 to 4.38.Although he limited the As to just one over the first five innings, Bard struggled throughout. After the second inning, Bard went to three-ball counts seven times.Just had a hard time putting guys away, said Bard, whose record fell to 2-3, while the Red Sox fell to 11-13. I felt like, especially early in the game, I was getting to 0-2 and 1-2 counts and I would make those pitches on the edge of the zone and for whatever reason just wasnt getting chases and they were fouling off and they kid of worked till I left something over the plate.Thats kind of what happened later in the game, but I was a little bewildered coming out, looking at how I felt and the results. I felt really good, and I think the one thing that could have been really better was establishing a breaking ball a little more.The As saved their major damage against Bard for the sixth inning. Bard faced six Oakland batters, recording just one out.Josh Reddick led off with a single to left-center before Yoenis Cespedes flied out to Marlon Byrd in center. Seth Smith doubled in Reddick on a ball that twisted Cody Ross around in left. Kila Ka'aihue doubled in Smith, and Bard hit Kurt Suzuki on the left hand with a 93-mph fastball. Brandon Inge doubled in Kaaihue, ending Bards outing.Bards bewilderment was obvious as he attempted to explain the inning.I cant even remember how it started, he said. I know there was Smiths pop-up to left and thats just something you have to work with. Any left fielder will tell you thats a tough spot to play out there. Just tried to work around it. Again, got myself into some good counts with the hitters after that, got an out. Then I dont remember how it went. I know I gave up a run on that but youre just trying to, at that point, limit the damage and like I said got to two strikes with the next couple guys and left a pitch kind of over the middle to Inge after he lays off a couple of good breaking balls. And got ahead on Suzuki the next guy and end up hitting him.So, got to the situations where I had a chance to really limit the damage to two runs there and just wasnt able to do it.Bard has not been helped by his offense. It was the second time in his four starts this season the Sox have not scored while he has been in the game, and he has received one run or fewer in three of his four outings.I thought he pitched good, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He made some good pitches. That one inning it seems like he can't get over that one inning but we didn't put any runs on the board either way. I think he went out there and pitched great. He had a good slider working, good changeup, fell behind for some guys but all in all he did pretty good.Manager Bobby Valentine was also pleased with Bards performance.Bard once again looked like a pretty good pitcher, Valentine said. Worked quick, got some quick innings. A little adversity in the sixth there cost him a few runs. Other than, that he pitched really well. Had some pitches that he thought could have been strikes, and those innings, those are pages that you have to turn. And Im sure he will.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.