FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If Daniel Bard is as successful as he hopes in making the transition from bullpen to starting rotation, the Red Sox will have to find someone else to handle the high-leverage innings that Bard handled so well for the last 2 12 seasons.
There are a number of candidates, including right-hander Mark Melancon, who has late-inning experience with the Houston Astros.
But manager Bobby Valentine isn't showing his hand when it comes to his bullpen plans.
"I think the talent will dictate that,'' said Valentine. "I don't have a puzzle that I'm trying to fit pieces into; I'm going to take the pieces and make the puzzle. We'll see what we have.''
Among the candidates for Bard's old role: Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers.
Aceves could either start or take over Bard in the set-up role.
"He can do either or,'' said Valentine. "We'll see how that plays out and see how his health plays out. He was very healthy last year. He looks in great shape right now. He's a very determined pitcher and athlete.
"Those innings (last year) -- 90 valuable innings is pretty valuable in meaningful ballgames.''
One problem could arise if both Bard and Aceves become starters is the Red Sox will have to somehow find a way to replace almost 165 innings.
"It's a concern,'' admitted Valentine, "but I don't what else there is. We'll have to see what the other members of this 2012 version can do. When we can see what they can do and how they fit into place, we'll know if we're adding or subtracting from last year or if we're building something totally different and new.''