Which Daniel Bard Will Red Sox Fans See This Season?
2012 was not the year Daniel Bard had in mind for himself. The team mainly, Bobby Valentine, placed him in the starting rotation to start the year. Bard was a great setup man for former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon years prior. Bard being a starter only lasted ten starts before he was sent down to Pawtucket to work on his mechanics. From experience, I saw him walk the bases loaded then hit two batters and even hit the umpire with a pitch. If Daniel Bard can get 2012 off his mind the Red Sox will be have a better bullpen this season.
Talk of Bard being the closer after Jonathan Papelbon left for Philadelphia was short lived and the team did not think he could take the responsibility, quickly trading for Andrew Bailey. When Bailey went down with an injury in spring training Alfredo Aceves who almost had the fifth spot in the rotation instead of Bard, took over the closers role. One thing we know this year is that Bard will not be the ninth inning guy or even an eight inning guy. Joel Hanarahan and Andrew Bailey will take those duties. Bard, will have to prove himself to even be inserted into the seventh inning with the addition of Koji Uehara and the emergence of Junichi Tazawa. Uehara will probably not pitch in back to back games so Bard will certainly have the chances to prove himself.
The reasoning to changing Bard into a starter can be talked about for days. Fans will say he was ruined last year. Face it, Bard looked horrible out there at times. He needs to be coming out of the bullpen throwing gas and striking people out. He cannot finesse his way throw seven crafty innings. That’s just not who he is and cannot fault him for that, not everyone is John Smoltz.
We heard last week that Red Sox manager John Farrell went down and saw Daniel Bard throw and was using his “regular” arm slot. The arm slot that helped him have a 1.93 ERA in 2010. Bard is not being asked of much this off season but to go back to being his old self. If Bard is able to do that then maybe just maybe the Red Sox can maintain a steady bullpen. Last year was a mess from the start with Bailey getting injured in spring training to Aceves and Bobby Valentine and so much more. If Bard can catch fire again Andrew Bailey may become expendable and able to grab a bat or some young pitching. One thing is for sure Daniel Bard will be in the bullpen this season, but which Daniel Bard will it be?
The Red Sox bullpen will look something like this if the roster stands pat through March.
Closer Joel Hanrahan
Set Up Men Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow
Long Men Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen