Daniel Bard: Red Sox bullpen fine without Andrew Bailey (or him)
|04.06.12 at 11:36 am ET|
DETROIT — After the long spring competition, Daniel Bard secured a spot in the Red Sox rotation by showing enough potential to convince the Sox that he was on the path to becoming, at some point, quite adept at it. But shortly after he’d been named a starter, the Red Sox bullpen became unsettled quite suddenly by the thumb injury and subsequent surgery that will keep closer Andrew Bailey out until after the All-Star break.
At least based on track records, few relievers over the past few years could match the quality of Bailey’s work (quantity was and is another matter), given that his 2.07 career ERA is the second lowest in major league history among pitchers with at least 100 career innings since ERA became an official statistic. Even so, Bard is certainly capable of comparable dominance, with a 2.88 ERA in his three career seasons, as well as 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. So, if the Sox felt that they needed to replace Bailey by finding a comparably dominant arm, the idea of shifting Bard back to the bullpen and adding Aaron Cook to the starting rotation had evident logic.
Even though GM Ben Cherington said that the idea of moving Bard back to the bullpen was never a consideration, and that the team remained committed to the idea of developing him as a starter, Bard at least recognized the possibility that the Sox might approach him about shifting back to a late-innings role in light of Bailey’s injury.
“I told them last fall I wanted the opportunity to start or close. I didn’t say for them to hand me the job. I wanted the opportunity. It put the ball basically in their court to figure out whatever was best for me and the team,” Bard explained. “They wanted me to be a starter. Obviously, with that choice, nothing was set in stone until a couple days ago. I definitely saw it as a possibility, but I think we have plenty of capable candidates who are down there who can do it as well, so it’s good where we’re at right now.”
Indeed, prior to the Red Sox’ Opening Day, 3-2 loss to the Tigers, Bard suggested that he “definitely” felt that the Sox had the necessary components to have an effective bullpen even with the loss of Bailey (and without the addition of himself).
“I think [Alfredo] Aceves is good in any role you put him in and just crazy enough to succeed. I think [Mark] Melancon obviously can handle it. He’s done it before. You’ve got other guys who can pick up saves as needed. You’ve got [Vicente] Padilla, who’s done it before,” said Bard. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to pick up the slack.”
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