Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

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Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

PAWTUCKET, R.I. It would have been understandable if Daniel Bard had chosen not to speak to the media after his outing Monday night. Not appreciated, but understood. After all, its not the easiest thing to go back to the minor leagues when you were formerly a lights-out pitcher (albeit, in an entirely different role) in the big leagues.

Instead, Bard, was loquacious in his answers, explaining, among other things, what he is trying to accomplish with Triple-A Pawtucket since his demotion June 7 and the decision to not start Monday night as originally planned, working out of the pen instead.

Q: How do you look at your outings here, measuring what youre trying to accomplish?
Bard: Yeah, I think the nice thing about being down here is that the wins and losses arent quite as important and you can really focus on getting the work in and kind of look at the process more than the result, which is harder to focus on when youre up there pitching for Boston. That wouldnt allow me to do that.

Q: Why the decision to not start Monday?
Bard: I just told them after that last one Friday I said that starting with the intention of going one inning just felt really strange. I mean, it felt like a very manufactured situation, didnt feel like I was really part of a baseball game. So I just told them , I said Im all good with the short stints closer together. I think thats a good way to get back on track. But I dont see, if were trying to go with more of a bullpen feel, which is kind of what they talked to me about when we get through this and then translate to starting, I said why dont we just do it out of the bullpen? So, I told them lets just do that. And they were ok with it, with the intent of doing this a few times and like I said, translating back to starting.

Q: What do you think of your outing Monday against the Gwinnett Braves?
Bard: It took me two batters I think to really get locked into an arm slot. I was a little bit low, lower than I would like on those first couple hitters and you saw some balls running away from me. And then I make the adjustment and I think pitched pretty well to those last three guys. So the nice thing is I can focus on that and say I wasnt perfect but it doesnt matter. I was locked in, I got something good to walk away with those last three hitters.

Q: What did you think of your fastball and slider?
Bard: Fastball was good, got better as the inning went on. I think a lot of it is just the level of conviction that Im throwing it with and that got better as the inning went on. So thats all I can ask, because sometimes the slider kind of locks me back in. If Im missing with the fastball, throw a couple sliders and then throw the fastball off of that. So its kind of what I did tonight.

Q: The decision to not start makes people think youll eventually be back in bullpen for the Red Sox. What are your thoughts on that?
Bard: Thats fine. People are going to think whatever they want. I think its not a secret that Ive had success out of the bullpen. I think its no secret that thats where Im most comfortable the adrenaline rush that comes with it, the added pressure of getting loose quick and everything, thats where Im comfortable. Still while we can say that, I think we still have to say Im not ready to give up on starting. I think, like I said after the Toronto outing before I even knew I was getting optioned, was that we, I think, we had changed too many things to try to become a starting pitcher rather than take the same pitcher Ive been the last three or four years and put that guy in a starting role. So I think this is a good first step in that process.

Q: How much of what youre trying to accomplish down here is related to confidence and how much is physical?
Bard: Well, I dont think, confidence is not an issue at all. I think it was I mechanically got out of whack my last I dont want to say my last few starts because I felt really good against Detroit May 29 and that wasnt that long ago. It was maybe 10 or 11, 12 days ago. So I dont think confidence is an issue. My mechanics needed to get back in check. Ill be the first to admit it and this wouldn't have been my first choice of how to fix it but thats what they decided for me and Im trying to make the best of it. So, obviously getting sent down to Triple A is a little bit of a reality check for you and you try not to let it affect your confidence because I know how good of a pitcher I am and how good I can be. So just using it as an opportunity to work on some stuff and in a lower-pressure environment.

Q: Whats next in the process?
Bard: I think well do, I dont think theres a number put on anything but probably another one or two of these type outings. Maybe go two innings if I have a quick first inning, kind of thing, just to really get that feel back. If the next two or three go really well, well look from there and see where the needs are.

Q: It would seem that a one-inning outing is like starting from square one?
Bard: Not really. I think its just, I think I could have just gone to the obviously the way the roster was set up at the time, probably could have just gone to the bullpen and gotten two or three outings in the big leagues and missed a start maybe. But we didnt have a lot of roster flexibility. Its nobodys fault. Its just how it is. So Im getting that same work in down here.

Q: How is that different from making starts for Pawtucket?
Bard: Well I think it wasnt, it just kind of points to how its allowing me to get my delivery to where Im comfortable, where I want it to be. And if theyre sending me out there every five days for 90, 100 pitches, if it doesnt go how we want, if I dont feel the way I want to feel, then were kind of wasting five days, instead of if I went out there tonight and didnt like how I felt, then screw it, we wasted one day, 20 pitches and I come back in three days and I can try to correct it. Tonight felt good. I think it was not perfect but like I said we can focus on the process. Tonight I think it was a good step in the right direction.

His post-game session wrapped, Bard thanked the handful of writers, then wished us a good night. Gracious and loquacious.

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.