Despite runs, Bard, Valentine happy with outing

620972.jpg

Despite runs, Bard, Valentine happy with outing

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The pitching line wasn't anything to boast about, but Daniel Bard's second-to-last outing in Florida was a success in his eyes.

Just as critically, it was the same for manager Bobby Valentine.

"I was walking in with (Kelly Shoppach)," said Bard after going six innings and allowing nine hits and five runs in what turned out to be a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. "He goes, 'How many runs did they end up getting?' I said, 'Five.' He said, 'It felt like two.' I said I feel the same away. It was kind of like they kept slapping one on in every inning.

"I felt like I threw the ball well in each of those innings, but every hit they needed kind of fell through and the ground balls got through."

If Bard sounded like he was rationalizing, Valentine echoed his thoughts later.

"Overall, I liked everything," he said. "He had some tough breaks, but he worked his way out of jams. He threw all of his pitches today. I thought his changeup at times was devastating. His slider was sharp at times.

"What was there not to like other than the five runs on the board? And I thought some of those could have been prevented."

"Today was the first game I actually felt like a starting pitcher out there and not like a reliever starting," said Bard. "I used all four pitches, a steady mix of all four. I really did it and felt confident about it . . . I was able to take a lot of things from it. Take the five runs out of it and I felt pretty about it."

Bard made a slight adjustment in his positioning for both the full windup delivery and his stretch delivering, finding consistency for both.

He still hasn't been told what he'll be doing, but he's no longer concerning himself with the uncertainty.

"For a little while, you wonder and you wonder," he said. "But I've just kind of gotten to the point where it's out of my hands. I'm going to put the work in and do the best I can right now. If that shifts to a bullpen role, I'll do the same thing.

"Like everything in life, if you can't control it, it's probably not worth worrying about."

When Valentine was asked if there was a bottom line decision on Bard coming, the manager said: "I just like what I see."

Valentine wouldn't offer a deadline on a decision on the final two spots in the rotation.

"I don't know that there's going to be any big announcements or anything," he said. "It looks like it's all coming together. No matter who's pitching, I like the pitching. I'll see how it works. I haven't (decided) in my mind. But it looks like it's going to be an easy decision (because there are a number of good candidates from which to choose).

"It's not like we're going to be searching for pitchers to start games."

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."