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Daniel Bard on thoracic outlet syndrome surgery: ‘I just knew it was the right thing to do’ 02.05.14 at 6:36 pm ET
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Appearing on The Bradford Files podcast, former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard talked with Rob Bradford about his recent injury diagnosis and surgery, and the affects he said it had on him the last few years. To listen to the interview, click here.

“I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and the surgery they do to fix that is, it’s called a rib extension and they actually go in behind your collarbone, on my throwing arm side, and take out half that first rib,” Bard said. “The idea behind it is it frees up that nerve that runs over the top of it. That’s what they did. Sounds pretty invasive. It was a pretty painful first few days but feeling good right, about a month out of surgery.”

Bard had the surgery on Jan. 2 and says that he is on schedule to throw in two weeks, right in line for spring training with the Rangers. Before having the surgery, Bard was nervous about doing it.

Former Red Sox teammate Josh Beckett was the first to suggest Bard might be dealing with TOS (with Beckett having undergone surgery for the ailment during the 2013 season), reaching out to the reliever in early September. Bard then was put in touch with former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold in early December after struggling during a stint in the Puerto Rico winter league.

Reinold referenced tests the Red Sox had performed on Bard in previous seasons that suggested there might be an issue, encouraging the righty to be examined by a team of specialists in the Dallas area. The determination was that it would be best if Bard underwent surgery.

“For me it was hard to pull the trigger and go, ‘Yeah, go in and cut out a chunk of my rib, just see if it works.’ … The doctors really did, it’s not like they were talking me into it, they just seemed very convinced themselves that the surgery was going to help me and over time it kind of sunk in and I just knew it was the right thing to do.”

For Bard, the thoracic outlet syndrome was made worse from his decline in play and move to the starting rotation in 2012.

“I think through the whole starting thing it happened to coincide with when, and I think the increased workload of starting in 2012 probably sped up the process and made this situation a little worse,” Bard said. “And not to mention you’€™re not feeling a lot of outward symptoms, you’re not feeling pain. So you don’€™t think anything’s wrong with you physically and then when the results of what you expect them to be, velocity is down, command is a little bit worse. You immediately try to start fixing things and the first thing you try to fix in baseball is usually mechanics. If it’s not mechanics, it’s something mental. … It was just kind of a snowball effect of me trying to fix things when in reality I was kind of working with a not fully functional nerve in my arm which I think affected me more than anyone realized at the time.”

Even before the surgery, Bard had interest from multiple teams, settling on the Rangers on Feb. 3.

“There were some teams that were interested, the Cubs being one of them, beforehand, before I even had the surgery that were showing interest,” Bard said. “Then the Rangers kind of came in after they found out about the surgery. But they came in strong and made me feel really welcome and wanted. It just felt like a good fit.”

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Cubs claim Daniel Bard off waivers 09.04.13 at 2:14 pm ET
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Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard

Pitcher Daniel Bard, designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Sunday, was claimed by the Cubs on Wednesday. The move reunites Bard with Theo Epstein, who was the GM when the Sox selected the right-hander in the first round of the 2006 draft out of the University of North Carolina, and Jason McLeod, who was the Red Sox director of amateur scouting when the team took Bard out of UNC.

Bard, 28, has struggled since the Sox attempted to convert him to a starter at the start of the 2012 season. He returned to a relief role in the minors the past two seasons but struggled with his command.

Bard made two appearances with the Sox this season, allowing a hit, two walks and a run in one inning of work.

In 211 major league appearances, all with the Red Sox, Bard is 10-19 with five saves, a 3.67 ERA and a 1.220 WHIP.

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Andrew Miller feels for good friend Daniel Bard, can relate to situation 09.01.13 at 12:25 pm ET
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Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard‘s story took another sad turn on Sunday, as the once-dominant reliever was designated for assignment to help make room on the 40-man roster for recent acquisitions Quintin Berry and John McDonald.

Bard’s return from an abdominal injury has been nothing short of a disaster. He has experienced the same control issues that have completely derailed his career over the last two seasons, walking 27 batters in 15 1/3 innings split between the Gulf Coast League and Low-A Lowell.

The one guy who can sympathize with Bard perhaps more than any other is Andrew Miller, a college teammate and good friend who once experienced similar struggles.

Miller was the sixth overall pick by the Tigers in 2006, and he wound up being the centerpiece of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit in 2007. Miller couldn’t live up to the hype, though, as he posted a 5.89 ERA and 1.73 WHIP over the next three seasons.

He started the 2010 season in the minors and was eventually traded to the Red Sox after the season for the meager return of Dustin Richardson. Miller was unimpressive in his first season in Boston, but finally figured things out as a reliever and managed to put together a solid 2012 season. He got off to a good start again this season before suffering a season-ending foot injury in July.

“I never had as much success as [Bard] at this level, but his situation and my situation… you’re so well-known, and you’re just battling and struggling to get back here,” Miller said of the similarities between his past and Bard’s present.

“You feel like you’ve accomplished something, but you just can’t get back to the level you were at. You just have to grind it out and keep plugging away and eventually you’ll get through it. A lot of times you take for granted the times when it’s easier. It’s a hard game. There are so many aspects of it. The mental aspect can be so tough at times when you’re not having success.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox add Ryan Lavarnway, Quintin Berry, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Snyder as call-ups; Daniel Bard designated for assignment at 9:43 am ET
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Daniel Bard was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Sunday. (AP)

Daniel Bard was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Sunday. (AP)

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said on WEEI on Sunday morning that the Red Sox have added outfielder Quintin Berry, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and third baseman Brandon Snyder (the latter of whom has been activated off the disabled list). An industry source said that, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Berry, the Red Sox have designated Daniel Bard for assignment.

Berry, acquired last week from the Royals in exchange for right-hander Clayton Mortensen, has hit just .191 with a .309 OBP and .257 slugging mark for three Triple-A teams this year (the affiliates of the Tigers, Royals and most recently, the Red Sox), will serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement off the bench. The 28-year-old is 30-for-34 in stolen base attempts in the minors this year, and he was 21-for-21 in the big leagues in that role for the Tigers last year.

Lavarnway was hitting .250/.346/.350 in 50 games for the PawSox this year. In the big leagues, he’s hitting .283/.323/.383 in 19 games. He gives the Sox a third catcher, offering protection both in case of injury and permitting the Sox in-game flexibility to pinch-hit or pinch-run for any of their catchers (Jarrod Saltalamacchia or David Ross) without leaving themselves in a position of vulnerability.

De La Rosa is in his third stint in the big leagues this year. In five games in the majors, he has a 4.76 ERA with three strikeouts and one walk in 5 2/3 innings. In 24 minor league games, the 24-year-old has a 4.26 ERA with 8.5 strikeouts and 5.4 walks per nine innings. Since being sent down from the Red Sox and working out of the PawSox bullpen in late-August, De La Rosa has allowed two runs in 3 2/3 innings with six walks and two strikeouts in four appearances.

Snyder, 26, is hitting .209/.227/.419 in 21 big league games this year. He’s been on the disabled list since August 8 due to a sore elbow.

Bard, who pitched on Saturday with Lowell (his first appearance outside the Gulf Coast League since May 15), worked a scoreless inning in which he managed to prevent anyone from crossing the plate despite walking four batters. A pickoff at third by catcher Jake Romanski, coupled with a pair of strikeouts (one swinging, one looking), allowed Bard to strand the bases loaded despite the four walks and a wild pitch. But he now has 27 walks and nine strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings in the minors this year, and even at a time when he has an option remaining, it had become clear that the most sensible path for the Red Sox and perhaps for Bard himself was to take him off the major league roster so that he can undertake the necessary work to recreate a foundation upon which he can move his career forward.

If he goes unclaimed, then perhaps that will happen in the Red Sox organization. However, because Bard has an option left, and because he is just two years removed from a three-year run as one of the most dominant relievers in the game, the Red Sox removed him from the 40-man roster with eyes wide open about the possibility that someone might take a flyer on him (either through a waiver claim or in a trade for little return), particularly given how quickly he left behind a year of disastrous command in 2007 to emerge as a dominant bullpen option who was nearing big league readiness in 2008.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Team planning 3-4 initial call-ups; Daniel Bard assigned to Lowell; Mike Carp feeling better 08.31.13 at 5:31 pm ET
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Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

With rosters expanding on Sunday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team is planning to call up three or four players initially. He said they’ll be bringing up a catcher, an infielder, a pitcher and possibly one more player, adding that the names attached to those spots would be made available once the moves become official.

Ryan Lavarnway would be the best bet at catcher given that he just spent two months in Boston while David Ross was on the disabled list. The infielder will likely be either Brock Holt or Brandon Snyder (who just started a rehab assignment), as both have spent extended time in the majors this season. For pitchers, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa and Brayan Villarreal would appear to be the most likely candidates.

Farrell said the Red Sox will make more call-ups once Pawtucket completes its postseason, which is set to begin Wednesday. Farrell said that although the team won’t hesitate to call up anyone who can help, he also thinks there is value in playing in a Triple-A playoff run.

“Given the stage in the career of a number of guys who are there, particularly the younger guys, I think those settings are invaluable,” Farrell said. “To feel a sense of urgency is always a good thing when it comes to making a pitch or a play in key spots.”

As for other potential roster changes, Farrell said he doesn’t think the team needs to make any moves before Saturday night’s waiver trade deadline, noting that the team has been playing well and that he’s comfortable with the current roster.

“We made a couple additions prior to the trading deadline, and we’ve continued to perform well as a team,” Farrell said. “I don’t expect that to be any different going forward.”

Other Red Sox notes:

-Daniel Bard has been assigned to Single-A Lowell, where he’ll get in a couple games before their season ends on Wednesday. Bard is coming off a disastrous Gulf Coast League outing in which he surrendered five walks, threw two wild pitches and failed to make it through one inning.

“Just keep him active and still provide opportunities and see what might unfold,” Farrell said. “He’s willing to do it and wanted to do it, and we don’t want to take that motivation away from him.”

-Mike Carp will be available off the bench Saturday. He was a late scratch on Thursday and was unavailable Friday night while battling a sore shoulder. Farrell said Carp has responded well to treatment and is feeling better, though.

-After Clay Buchholz wrapped up his rehab start in Pawtucket on Friday night, he made it up to Boston in time to catch the last couple innings of the Sox game. Farrell said that’s another sign of how eager Buchholz is to be with the team and be back on the mound, and added that Buchholz is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Buchholz will make one more rehab start with Pawtucket on Wednesday, and Farrell said the plan is for Buchholz to throw about 70 pitches in that start. Farrell said he hasn’t given too much thought to how the rotation will shake out once Buchholz returns – ”We’ll cross that bridge once we get there.”

For more on Buchholz’ latest rehab outing, click here.

-Farrell talked about the fact that Jake Peavy will be facing his former team Saturday night, and noted that if anything, the advantage usually goes to the pitcher in that situation.

“They know what Jake is about, and I know Jake is very well aware of the tendencies and the strengths of the lineup he’ll face tonight,” Farrell said. “But I always think it swings in favor of the pitcher because he’s the one who knows the pitch selection and the location he’s intending to go to. It’ll come down to executing.”

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Red Sox minor league roundup: It’s time to take Daniel Bard off the 40-man roster; Matt Barnes lays a cornerstone for 2014; the ridiculous Mookie Betts; Luis Diaz’s incredible run 08.30.13 at 12:32 pm ET
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Daniel Bard walked five batters on Thursday. (AP)

Daniel Bard walked five batters on Thursday. (AP)

There can be no more illusions.

Daniel Bard‘s latest outing — in which he recorded two outs (one via caught stealing) but walked five and loosed two wild pitches while permitting three stolen bases in a Rookie Level Gulf Coast League contest — offered a bludgeoning hammer of truth. This is where Bard is: Healthy in his return from an abdominal injury, but still exhibiting the same horrific command woes that halted his season in Portland on May 15 (another five-walk outing), this time at the lowest rung of the minor league ladder in the U.S.

There may come a time when Bard is able to overcome his horrific command woes — that have now seen him walk 23 in 14 1/3 innings. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And there can be no secret about that, no more feeling that he’s close to being able to help in the big leagues.

The message has to be clear. The process of rebuilding his career is going to require an acceptance of place. And that begins by making clear where he is.

Bard is a minor leaguer. There is a significant amount of player development in front of him if he is to become a big leaguer again. The time for him to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster is not healthy for him, not healthy for the organization.

The Red Sox will need a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Quintin Berry on Sept. 1. And it should come as no surprise if Bard is taken off the big league roster in order to create that opening.

There is a chance — multiple evaluators of other organizations believe — that another team might take a chance on the 28-year-old, who is still (it is amazing to think) just two years removed from a three-year stretch as one of the top relievers in the big leagues. After all, in 2008, he left behind a year of horrific struggles, found his delivery, saw his stuff become that of an elite reliever and pushed himself to the doorstep of the big leagues. If things once again click for him, there’s a chance he can rebound just as quickly, and other teams might be willing to take a shot that such a thing might happen — particularly given that Bard has an option left next year.

But that’s a risk from which the Sox — and Bard — can’t hide. Right now, the likelihood of him moving forward in his career in the Red Sox organization without a dire change appears remote. For both his own career and for the sake of the Red Sox’ ability to maximize the value of their roster, it’s time to acknowledge that right now, Bard is not a big leaguer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Breakthrough for Allen Webster; Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez finishing strong; Justin Haley’s upward trajectory; Simon Mercedes punches out everyone; the returns of Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves 08.27.13 at 12:54 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 (WALKOFF) VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

Right-hander Allen Webster logged a season-high eight innings on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster logged a season-high eight innings on Monday. (AP)

– No one doubts that Allen Webster has the sort of stuff that few others possess. His raw materials — mid- to upper-90s fastball that he can sink, swing-and-miss slider, swing-and-miss changeup — suggest the ability to dominate. But how that’s translated to results has been a different matter.

Prior to Monday, Webster’s challenges with control meant that he rarely proved capable of working deep into games. He had recorded just one out in the seventh inning in 26 starts between Triple-A and the majors. That being the case, Monday represented a landmark.

Webster was hardly pinpoint with his command, as he issued three walks and hit a batter while throwing 61 percent of pitches for strikes (60 of 98). But when he did lose the strike zone, he quickly found his way back and attacked the opposing lineup, permitting just one run on two hits (one solo homer accounting for the only damage against him) while punching out five.

That Webster logged eight innings (the second time in his career that he’s worked eight or more frames — in 2011, he had a nine-inning complete-game shutout in Double-A) was significant in its own right. But it becomes even more meaningful in that it’s part of a broader trend.

In his last seven starts, Webster now has a 2.63 ERA while averaging a tick under six innings per outing. During that time, he has more than a strikeout per inning (45 in 41 frames) while averaging 3.1 walks per nine innings. Opponents are hitting just .177 against him during that time — the lowest mark of any pitcher in the International League — while his 0.98 WHIP is seventh in the International League since July 26. It is a strong finishing leg for a season in which Webster has explored divergent performance extremes.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-4 with a double, and he’s now reached base in all 16 games since coming off the DL on August 9. During that time, he’s hitting .279 with a .375 OBP and .459 slugging mark. Yet rather than being an outlier, that stretch has reflected what has been Bradley’s norm in Pawtucket this year. In 74 Triple-A games, he’s hitting .279 with a .378 OBP and .483 slugging mark. Moreover, whereas Bradley appeared to have hit a wall by this point in his first full professional season, this year, he is showing an ability to sustain his performance down the stretch in a fashion that suggests improvement over where he was as a player in Double-A at this time in 2012. In short, he’s performed in a fashion that has done nothing to alter the view that he’ll be ready for an everyday role in the big leagues by next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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