Bard's struggles continue against Indians


Bard's struggles continue against Indians

By Maureen Mullen

CLEVELAND Daniel Bard calmly answered reporters questions after Mondays 3-2 loss to the Indians. But his frustration, if not spoken, was evident.

Bard entered the game with one out and the tying run on second base. He got his first batter, pinch-hitter Carlos Santana to pop up to Kevin Youkilis for the second out. But Michael Brantleys single to right field on a 2-and-2 pitch scored pinch-runner Adam Everett tying the game, with Brantley taking second on the throw home.

The next batter was Asdrubal Cabrera, currently one of if not the -- hottest hitters in baseball. He doubled off the wall in left-center, on a 1-and-0, 96-mph fastball, scoring Brantley with the go-ahead run, ending Bards outing.

Bard threw 11 pitches 10 fastballs at either 96 or 97 mph and one 84-mph slider.

He made some good pitches to get to two strikes and then left a ball too much out over the plate to Brantley, manager Terry Francona said. And then the same thing on the next hitter. The velocitys good, just out over the plate.

I would say the issue was location sometimes, because the balls coming out of his hand great. I thought early in the season he got under some breaking balls . . . Actually, hes done a pretty good job. No matter how hard you throw, some hitters, especially when theyre real hot, and you leave it out over the plate, they can get to it, and especially as they get deeper in the count they can put a good swing on it.

Cabrera is seeing the ball really well, Bard said. He's hitting just about everything. Pitch to Brantley . . . the count dictated everything the way we got to it. Everything dictated fastball in. I threw a fastball in and he hit it. Didn't hit it hard. Just enough to get through, but that's all he needed.

It may have been a bit of bad luck, Bard said.

"Yeah, maybe, he said. You just come to expect it as a reliever you're going to have a little bit of bad luck. It can look really bad. Same thing the other way. It will even out. I'm confident it well. I'll stick to my plan and do what I'm doing. I'm really happy the way ball is coming out of my hand. When they hit the pitches you're trying to throw, theres not much you can do about it."

It was more about location and pitch selection, said one scout in attendance Monday night.

I thought he went about it wrong, the scout said. If you dont locate, it doesnt matter if you throw 100. It was poor location. He did not hit the mitt.

"The ball on Brantley, he didnt get it in far enough and it ran back over the plate. And all he threw was fastballs. Cabreras the hottest guy in baseball right now. Bards not going to blow it by him. He just didnt make quality pitches. Quality pitches would have gotten him out of the inning. His fastball is not unhittable. This is a fastball-hitting team and Asdrubals a fastball hitter. Show him some off-speed stuff and it might make his fastball look a little bit better.

The inherited runner Bard allowed to score was the first in nine such situations. However, he has allowed runs in 7 of his 24 appearances this season, including four of his last seven.

He has posted a record of 1-4, with an ERA of 3.65 and two blown saves. In his blown saves and losses, he has allowed a combined eight earned runs (nine runs total) on 11 hits and two walks with three strikeouts and two home runs over four innings for an 18.00 ERA.

In his 19 other outings, including a win on May 18 over the Tigers and eight holds, he has allowed just two runs on seven hits and five walks with 21 strikeouts and a home run over 19 23 innings for an ERA of 0.92.

Bard has appeared in 24 of the Sox' 47 games this season. He said he feels fine physically but felt some fatigue a few days ago.

"Little bit a few days ago, he said. But last two outings I've felt really good."

Francona has no intention of staying away from Bard.

I still love going to him, Francona said. Obviously, we do and we will.

"May not always be successful, but we believe in him a lot.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.