Results tagged ‘ Daniel Bard ’

Red Sox of 2013 on the field for the first time

It wasn’t even a Grapefruit League game, but there the Red Sox of 2013 were, on the field for the first time against an opponent.

Joel Hanrahan, the new closer, made his first pitches in a Boston uniform, starting by giving up a single on a ball Jonny Gomes probably could have caught. The righty retired the next two batters, than hit a batter and punched out Will Dougherty to end his 17-pitch inning.

Daniel Bard — his struggles last season all too well-documented — also started by giving up a hit. But the righty struck out the next three, getting some weak waves from the Huskies.

The offensive highlight in the first inning was an RBI double to the opposite field in left by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Pedro unplugged as he returns to work

There was a buzz in the air, as Pedro Martinez put on Red Sox uniform pants and warmup jacket for the first time since 2004, when he dominated the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series.

Martinez is now a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and he will spend time in camp working with pitchers — particularly Felix Doubront and Rubby De La Rosa.

During a 24-minute session with the media, Martinez was expansive and entertaining.

Does Martinez want to pitch again? “Oh no, not at all. Not to play. Coming back to see the Sox in first place, maybe. No, no, no, no chance. I just don’t think so. I did what I was supposed to do out there.”

What will he add? “I hope to add some knowledge. Any help I can for the staff in any aspect. It could be mechanically. It could be on the field, off the field, it could be mentally, which I know a lot about going through struggles –what we go through in the middle of a season, especially after the first half. I can relate to a lot of them and actually get them going and they can come in and ask questions and I’ll be more than willing to answer.”

Talked to Daniel Bard. What was that all about? “I actually was talking about him feeling comfortable in some of the things that he was doing. He explained to me some of the things that he does where he feels more comfortable. I suggested a couple of things, simple things, like getting into different habits of doing things so he can actually feel comfortable on the mound and off the mound and also to make adjustments.”

Putting the Red Sox uniform on for the first time since 2004: “You know what, it’s weird, but it feels like the first day to me. I get so excited just to be part of this team and be part of the tradition that we have here. To me, it was just like the first day. I was actually a little bit funny about putting a pair of [Red Sox] pants on again. Shorts are different. And regular pants like a player. Same size, same everything, even though I’m a little heavier.”

Less control than when he was a player: “You know what, when they’re in the field, I think they have ways to go around it, but when you’re not, it’s an empty feeling that you get inside of you. There’s nothing you can do from the front of your TV. Sometimes the few games that I stopped to watch at Fenway, it was painful to see the chemistry wasn’t there, the team wasn’t doing what they were supposed to. I was trying to be optimistic about the team playing together all year. That never happened. I know that was one of the biggest reasons why the team didn’t perform to the level that everybody expected.”

Could you have ever imagined doing this years back? “No, I never thought about it but I knew I wanted to be in the field somehow, not all the time. That’s why I automatically erased probably becoming a pitching coach and probably a manager. I don’t really see myself doing 162 games anymore. I did it for my whole career and if I take part in the field, it’s going to be this way.”

Why was now the time to start working again? “To be honest, I can’t sit still for so long. I have to work. I grew up working. Since I was 14, and I was dropped off at the academy by Ramon, which was a really good choice, after that, I just went on to play and play and play and I was never home. Even though my family needs me and I need my family now, I still need some time to actually go away, actually have a schedule, have something to do and at the same time, be where I like to be, which is in the baseball field, the baseball diamond, exchanging with guys  that I feel are like my family.”

What kind of schedule will you have? “You  know, I became really close to Benny and I offered him my help in any sense I could help. I’m open to help him out. I just won’t compromise  special times with my family. I won’t compromise things that are important to me in my life, in my independent life. As far as anything else, I’m open to do it.”

Working with Felix Doubront, who some say is out of shape this spring: “Well he’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes you take for granted the opportunity we’re given. But the same way it comes, the same way it could go. All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. The only thing that prevents injuries is hard work. I believe he just doesn’t know. He hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks. That this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility that he has on top of his shoulder with the whole Boston community and the team and he’s so young. Nowadays these pitchers come up so young, so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. And I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that it’s really important to this team, the organization, the community, to Boston, and that they’re counting on him to be one of the big names. But at the same time, he’s still a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform. You have to take that into consideration and be patient with him. At the same time, try to guide him through it. and I think I can be a good access to it to learn about some of the things that he has to do.”

Not pulling any punches with Doubront: “Baseball is not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. He has to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just like I was always with you, I’m going to be straightforward an I’m going to say the way it is, point blank. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, that’s OK. I want the best for him and I want the  best for the organization and I would love to help. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and  not give it away. I would love to give it away and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.”

On Doubront perhaps not being in great shape: “Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before. But being out of shape a little bit at spring training, this is the only place you can be a little bit out of shape. You’re here to get in shape. He has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. At the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work.”

Does this job feed your competitive juices? “It’s more difficult for me to be as competitive because I can’t pitch. I would love to brush someone back. Hey, hey, get off the plate, this is my area. Now I have to sit and watch and rely on someone to do it so I can get my giddyup.”

More on inside baseball: “You teach them when to do it and how to do it and how to do it properly and effectively. It’s all part of the game. You have to pitch inside, you have to brush them back. You have to make them feel uncomfortable all the time, and one of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable is that pitch inside close to you. At 99 from Rubby De La Rosa or Doubront or Lester can get anybody uncomfortable. I will preach it: They need to pitch inside if they want to have success.”

The desire: “If you have all of the ingredients that lead you to it. You have to want it. You have to be crazy enough to do it. You have to be willing to do it. And you have to be willing to learn how to do it. You put all those ingredients together, and you have someone who can compete just as well as I used to.”

Now that you’re not pitching anymore, can you say how many of your hit batsmen were on purpose? “Probably 90 percent of them, but it was all in retaliation for my teammates.”

Did you drill Karim Garcia on purpose?  “Not on purpose. It didn’t even hit him. It hit the bat. Not on purpose. Who is Karim Garcia? He just hit a great homer for Mexico in the last Caribbean Series. Gerald Williams, no. Karim Garcia, no. Some others, I don’t know. There were some in retaliation to show them that there were things I wouldn’t allow them to do. You play around it. They understand it, too. They know they’re going to get hit for something that happened. If you disrespect a player or disrespect me, I’m probably going to take a chance, somewhere where you didn’t expect it or didn’t think I would do it, and there you have it. If you do it professionally and not hurting anybody. I don’t remember hitting anybody with a fastball to the head.”

Jorge Posada thought you were saying you wanted to hit him in the head in ’03. Did you ever get a chance to tell him that you were really saying, “I’ll remember that.”.  “No. No. It doesn’t matter. Posada is a human being. He’s got his family. He doesn’t need me in his life, I don’t need him. I wish him well with his family. There are some things that happen in the baseball field.”

Can you be a liason? “Hopefully we’ll be supportive to some of the players that don’t feel like they can talk to management. There are certain areas where a player doesn’t feel confident enough to express himself and have fun. I was crazy fun in the clubhouse, but the time to play was totally different. I knew I had something to do. There wasn’t anybody more serious on the day I pitched. But if I wasn’t pitching, I was so crazy fun, and those guys are going to get to know that. Even though I’m not playing, I’m going to keep it loose. I’m going to be loud. And you can do those things, but you have to understand that the time to work is the time to work and make a difference between work and loose time. When you have to express something, do it the right way. Hopefully I will be one of the bridges that reaches between the areas they weren’t able to reach the last few years.”

How do you relate to players when you probably had a lot more talent? “This may sound weird, but I never considered myself a great player. I made myself, along with my teammates, a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for his first game in the big leagues. I know that’s not going to be something you want to teach Doubront or any of those kids coming up, because they are rich in talent. All they have to do is try to stay physically healthy, here’s what they have and suck in a lot of the knowledge that everyone is trying to give them.”

How you put it all together: “I will say I had to learn a lot of little pieces together to become the person I was, the pitcher I was. I have a lot of me with Maddux, with Pettitte, with Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bret Saberhagen believe it or not was someone I really analyzed a lot, Tom Glavine. I had a lot of little things I learned from everybody. I tried to pack them all together and use them, and that’s how I became who i was in baseball, but I never considered myself a superstar or a superhuman talent. I thought there was a lot of work for me to do each day to be consistent and have success.”

Fans serenading you with love during the workout today: “That’s because I’m probably one more fan out there in the parade. Since I left Boston everything was a parade, and every time I came back it was a parade. People got used to keeping the same attitude. I think I’m the same way. I was really happy that they could feel, in a baseball field, feel for me what they felt for me in the field when I was playing. They were like, ‘Hey, Pedro!’ Some of them even asked if I was going to come back and pitch. I said, ‘No, not a chance.'”

Will you be a Red Sox lifer like Luis Tiant? “Probably. Probably around, yeah, when I’m an old goat running around. I probably won’t have the goatee, but I’ll be around hopefully like Jim Rice and Tiant, without the goatee. Johnny Pesky. Johnny Pesky. I remember him hitting me some fungos in my first year here. Then I saw him in his last days. I was really proud to have the opportunity to see Johnny Pesky. I’m hoping to become someone like that.”

Did you get over bitterness about the Red Sox not re-signing you? “I never held it against them. You have to understand, baseball has a dark side and it’s the negotiations. When you’re exposed to arbitration cases, you realize that there is a business part of baseball that forces you to look for negatives about the player, and the player tries to prove to the team that you’re worth whatever you’re asking, that money makes it all difficult. All that love for one day goes away. Then once we settle and reach an agreement, it’s all love again. It’s a lot like two boxers. You shake hands before and you shake hands after. That’s it. It’s boxing. I never held it against Boston, the fact that they didn’t sign me. They thought I wasn’t worth what I was asking, and I thought I was worth what I was asking. That was it. But no grudges, no grudges. Even though I was honest — probably too honest.”

You miss the glory days? “I miss [Johnny Damon], I miss Millar, I miss everybody. I miss every player I played with with the Red Sox. There’s nothing I can think of from ’04 and the previous teams I played, that I don’t miss. I was even telling [equipment manager] Joe Cochran, I was telling Joe I even miss seeing the flowers in the spring, when they first came out, the first part of the season where the leaves are starting to come out and the flowers are starting to come out, I miss that time when it’s starting to get warm and in the summer there’s all the flowers and Boston is green and beautiful. I miss all that over the last few years, even though I did visit — but not like I used to. Now I’m going to get to see it more often.”

Farrell opens up on variety of topics

John Farrell was the man of the hour on Tuesday, unveiled as the 46th manager in Red Sox history.

Here are some of the many topics he discussed.

Can the Red Sox contend in 2013? “I think a couple of things will need to happen. certain players return to the form and the performance that they’ve established for themselves and not just one-year situation. Guys who have estabilished a cereer path and a career recod of being above average and get the guys back who were taken out because of injury, to get them back fully healthy and then whatever additions are brought forward into this group. I think this has got an opportunity to be a fairly quick turnaournd and get to the point of contending next year.”

Where do thing stand with the coaching staff? “I wouldn’t say were really advanced. I would say we’ve got a number of names who are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining the coaches who were here last year and will they continue to go forward. We’re probably in the third or fourth inning.”

How critical is the pitching coach hire? “Yeah, I think with any position, I think stablility is critical. I think it’s important to know for the pitching coach to know coming in this isn’t going to be a position, because so much has been brought out with the return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged. Certainly there’s going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and to the best of his ability. That’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”

In essence, here was Farrell’s mission statement.   “As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe that in an uptempo aggressive style of play. It will certainly take into account the strength of our roster. That’s a given. But I think to play that style of game, it does create an attitude, which I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless.  With our effort, with our preparation, with the work and the competitiveness that we take the field every night, that is of the utmost importance of how we play. So for the fans that will watch this team take the field, that’s, in some ways, a non negotiable as far as I look at it. our effort is controlled every night. It’s something we can control.

“And to give forth our best effort is a minimum. As far as dealing with players, I firmly believe that there’s an amount of professionalism that every player who comes to the big leagues and certainly would come to the Red Sox would have. That guides their preparation, their motivation, all those adjectives you can attest to it or attach to it. most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, earn their respect and create an environment in that clubhouse that is just that. it’s a trusting that, it will be a learning one, and yes, it will be a competitive one and hopefully a very successful one at the same time. If that’s being described as a player’s manager, then maybe that’s what I am. That’s still forming. I’m still learning.

“But I feel, as I mentioned before, I’m in a much better place today than I was two years ago because of those experiences. And finally, my many conversations over the last few days with Ben, we do have a number of things we’ve got to take care of. First will be the staff to get that in place and that’s ongoing. We’ll have those updates as they become available. Just one note, on probably the attributes and the characteristics of the people that we would like to assemble here – they are guys that are going to be credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players backs and interests in their minds, maybe their guide, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to the staff. I think it’s critical that we work as a unity. There’s the ability to challenge once another and express opinions in that coach’s room and in our offices downstairs, but when we go out, we will be on the same page and working on one voice and I think that’s something that’s important to the overall approach of a club. We’re eager to get started and hit the ground running.”

Changing the culture in the clubhouse? “I can’t speak to what the Red Sox clubhouse was last year. I think it’s important that we communicate consistently to the players, we outline expectations and we have to hold players accountable to what we’re trying to get done. That’s leading people. At the same time, they have to have a voice in this to give their input. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a leader at the head or a rudder to guide the ship. But I think it’s important their inclusion is there. It has to be a positive place that they want to come to every single day.”

Things he learned from Toronto. “There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto, in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players. We created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment and that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game. Maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker.”

What makes Boston so special? “One, I think Boston is in my mind and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicenter of the game. To come in and have at least four years experience previous to, not having sat in this seat, but close to it to see the demands of this position and the passion of this region, the energy that’s in this ballpark every single night. That energy and what people expect holds our players accountable for the effort they put out every single night. Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here, but by no means will that be taken for granted. There’s familiarity, there’s an understanding maybe of the person I am and who they are, but it’ll be my approach to go back in — and it’s already started with conversations; I had a sitdown with David here earlier today — to start to earn his  trust and regain and reestablish all those relationships.”

Helping to restore Lester, Buchholz, etc.   “Setting aside Jon’s mention, setting aside Clay’s name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let’s face it, that’s how we’re going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority. Not only with the returning guys, which I think is a very strong, core group, when you consider Jon, when you consider Felix, Clay, the return of John Lackey, that is going to be an important part of that. So there are things across the field .. There was a question before about across the field, what did you see some things differently? Yeah, from a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into that might have affected his overall consistency. You can’t underemphasize the importance of a starting rotation.”

On the separation between being a manager and pitching coach. “There’s demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day. Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That’s what happened in Toronto.  It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there. I see that dynamic being very comparable. The one thing I will be very clear with the pitchers here prior is that it becomes an open line of communication, and not to bypass that passing coach. There can be no confusion in message. The player is ultimately the one who loses out in that and then we ultimately lose out, because there’s the potential for confusion.

The Red Sox have their hands full. “There’s a list of to-dos, no question. But with the roster that’s there now, there’s a core group there that you can build around. Having a comfort level with Ben and Mike and Brian and BOH and everyone in baseball ops, there’s no communication barriers. There’s no reluctance to give a gut feel or an educated opinion on a given player, on a given combination of things that might currently or what we’re trying to achieve from a roster standpoint. But the game also fosters change, whether it’s through free agency or opportunity. It would be the same if I were able to assemble a coaching staff that would get opportunities elsewhere to become managers. We would champion that. That means we’re getting quality people and putting our players in the best environment to have success as well.

Getting Daniel Bard back on track. “We’ve exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails. Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn’t too long ago that this might’ve been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He’s not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability.”

 

Catching up with Papelbon

While David Ortiz was the only Red Sox All-Star this season, there was a familiar face in the room during the availability for National League All-Stars on Monday afternoon.

Jonathan Papelbon, a four-time All-Star with Boston, was back on the big stage again, this time for the Philadelphia Phillies.

As was always the case during his years with the Red Sox, Papelbon had plenty to say on a variety of subjects.

Has Papelbon’s newfound wealth changed him? “It hasn’t changed my life at all. I’m good, man. I bought two four-wheelers for hunting camp. That’s about it, man. I went from a Back Bay penthouse to a Renthouse Square penthouse. That’s about it, man. When it’s all said and done, man, I’m easy breezy. I mean, the contract for me, it never real was about money. I’ve said this from the beginning. If it was about money for me, I would have tried to stay and start.

“It was a pride thing for me. It was a thing that I felt like, what can I do to go enjoy myself every day man. But the contract for me and wanting to go year to year like I did, and into the free agency like I did, was, I think, more just the competitive thing for me. Like, I’m going to try to be the best on the field and if I can be best on the field, why not be the best off the field? You know what I mean? It’s just kind of the way I tick.”

Papelbon hasn’t lost any motivation just because he has financial security, right? “No, man, I’m always ready to go, ready to rock. I think, when that starts happening, you really have to ask yourself: should I keep playing this game? When your work ethic changes and you start getting lazy and stuff like that … I’m one of those guys, I don’t do anything [less than full speed]. That’s just what I do.”

It would have been tough for Papelbon to stay in Boston without the only manager he ever had there — Terry Francona. “Yeah. I truly do believe that. Tito told me how to play big league baseball. I tell you what, that [guy ripped into me] sometimes. He did. But a lot of times also, he picked me up when I was falling down. He told me the ins and outs of how to prepare, how to be successful, how to succeed. He told me something one day when I was a rookie, he said, I had Michael Jordan in Birmingham and he said, you’ve got to learn how to fail before you succeed. And man, something just clicked in my head.

“It’s things like that, when I was a young kid coming up, everything, from the first Spring Training I had in Baltimore, sitting down with me and explaining how it works and how to be successful and everything. He was like a father figure to me sometimes. A to Z, to go from having him for a manager from ’05 to 2011, it’s just, him being gone, that wouldn’t have been easy for me. I don’t think it’s easy for Dustin [Pedroia], and I don’t think it’s easy for anyone in that clubhouse. There are adjustments you have to make. “

Was Papelbon gone pretty much the moment Tito left? “I’d say it pretty much closed the door, yeah. Not 100 percent but I wasn’t going to go there and not know what manager I was going to playing for. Even when Philadelphia showed interest in me, I asked around about Charlie, you know, because I think as manager has a lot to do with the way a player ticks and a way a player can go. It did – it had a whole lot. And then Theo bounces, ding, ding, ding, lightbulb went off in my head and I say to myself, Theo bounces, he created all of this. He wouldn’t just leave this behind if … so the wheels started turning.”

How weird would it have been to stay under the new regime? “I think it would be. I don’t think that would be an experience that I could really handle too well.”

The Red Sox never made an offer. “They wanted to see if I could go out and test the market and maybe come back. I don’t know if they would [have countered], but I don’t go back. I go forward.   go full steam ahead, man. I don’t look back. I’ve got a car that don’t have rearview mirrors in it, man. I just go.”

Charlie Manuel reminds Papelbon of Francona. “Charlie’s a really good manager. Charlie’s very similar to Tito. Charlie gets on you when he needs to get on you and lets you be who you need to be.”

Papelbon is thrilled for his close friend and former teammate David Ortiz. “I was saying that earlier. I’m excited for him, I’m happy for him. I mean, I think sometimes he gets his feelings get in the way but that’s Papi, man. Papi, he gets a little emotionally fired up sometimes. You guys know. I mean, I’m happy for him. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Lack of security for Ortiz, similar to Papelbon’s final years in Boston? “I think it fuels him. He just talks about it a little bit more. David, he’s an emotional guy. He puts his heart and soul into this. I find nothing wrong with what David says. I don’t find … you’ve got a small window, bro. a small window to try to succeed. And what David said and what he’s trying to do, I don’t find nothing wrong with that. no, it don’t surprise me, man.”

“Like I said, you have a small window to do your thing in this game. I’m so happy for him, man.”

Should the Red Sox weigh in intangibles more for a player like Ortiz? “Yeah, I think they should weigh it in. you’re talking about, in my opinion, the Red Sox are not the Red Sox without him, period. I don’t care what he asks for. I’m trying to make that big man happy.”

Papelbon is well aware that his former bullpen mate Daniel Bard, who is now in Triple-A, is having a rough time of it.  “I have. I haven’t talked to him. I’ve been meaning to actually talk to him here lately but, you know, Daniel’s the kind of guy, he’s a mature athlete and he knows what it’s about. He’s going to be fine. I really do think he’s going to be fine. He’s taking some bumps and some bruises right now but who doesn’t. You’re not in the big leagues if you’re not taking bumps and bruises. I took my bumps and bruises in 2010. You’re going to take some bumps and bruises. I think he’ll become better.”

Papelbon thinks Bard will be OK.  “He’s a pretty mentally strong kid. He really is. I saw that in the bullpen. I saw the days he got beat up and the way he  came back. I saw him have success the way he handled that. I think he’ll be fine.”

Tito’s change of heart pleases players

For all Terry Francona did during his time as manager of the Red Sox, the one thing he never got was closure. He remains a popular figure among the fans, even after last September’s 7-20 collapse.

On Friday, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the fans will get their chance to give Francona a standing ovation. Originally, Francona indicated he wouldn’t participate in the pre-game ceremony, in which several key figures of the team’s history will be in attendance.

“I think it’s great.,” said Dustin Pedroia. “I’m excited to see him. I’m sure everybody else is. I’m sure the fans will enjoy it. It’s a pretty big thing we’re doing here for the 100th year and he’s a huge part of this organization.”

The ovation will probably be one of the loudest of the day.

“I hope so,” Pedroia said. “There’s not a manager to do what he’s done here. He was pretty important to this organization for a long period of time so I’m sure the fans will be excited to see him.”

“I think that’s good.That’s a tough personal decision for him the way things ended here for him a few months ago. But he’s such a big part of the recent history of the team and the ballpark. I think it’s only appropriate that he’s here,” said Daniel Bard

Bobby V. backs Aceves

At least for now, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wants to stick with Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning. Mark Melancon will also still be asked to get important outs.

“Everything happened so quickly,” Valentine said. “He thinks he’s making pretty good pitches. I do too. Mark was pretty close to finishing that out. The ball wasn’t that bad a pitch. It’s not like we say make up something to new and we have to come up with something different. We’ve got to have a little better results and I think we’ll have that.”

Valentine didn’t hide from the awkwardness of the Daniel Bard situation, knowing full well that there’s he public perception that he should be closing.

“We’ve talked and he gets it,” Valentine said. “Poor guy has been thrown into a situation that no one should have to be thrown into really before his first major league start of the season. Words aren’t going to do anything more than his performance will, that’s for sure.”

The lineup is back to what it was the first two games, except Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz won’t be back to back. Youkilis will hit cleanup, separating the lefty sluggers.

“I don’t think I really need to say why. There might be a little madness there though,” Valentine said.

Youkilis went hitless in his first two games, so this could be a way for him to get better pitches to hit.

Bard still fighting for fourth spot

While there seems to be a general assumption that Daniel Bard will break camp as Boston’s fourth starter, manager Bobby Valentine is still in the evaluation phase.

“I’m not there yet,” Valentine said.  “I don’t know that anybody’s being necessarily analyzed in a vacuum, not on this whole team. I think it’s what the team needs, how he looks at what he’s doing, how he fits into that rotation with the people that can come into the game when he leaves. But he’s done real well. He’s going to make the team.”

Bard is pitching tonight at JetBlue Park against the Blue Jays.

Game 6 Grapefruit League: Red Sox 5, Rays 0

FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves both continue to look capable of holding down spots in the rotation. But the question lingers: Can the bullpen survive the loss of both of them?

What went right: Bard and Aceves both looked sharp while pitching three shutout innings against the Rays. Jose Iglesias executed a hit-and-run single in the first, moving Nick Punto to third. Iglesias also squared one up in his next at-bat and reached third when B.J. Upton misplayed his line drive to right-center.

What went wrong: Iglesias misread a sign and attempted a straight steal of home, only to be thrown out. Manager Bobby Valentine said after the game that it was supposed to a fake steal of home.

What they said: “I’m not a believer in the windup, period. I don’t get it. You throw your most important pitches of the game out of the stretch so you have to be more effective out of the stretch. Men are on base when you’re pitching out of the stretch so if that’s where you can throw your best pitches, why are you teaching yourself to throw twice, two different ways? It’s a crazy thought but I think if we were just starting the game right now, we wouldn’t teach anybody a windup.” – Bobby Valentine on his disdain for the windup.

What’s next: The Red Sox travel to Sarasota on Sunday to play the Orioles in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Jon Lester makes the start, and Aaron Cook will come out of the bullpen in his first appearance of camp. Cook is one of several candidates vying to be Boston’s fifth starter. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz will make the trip.

Injury update: Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to impress in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery. The righty threw a 40-pitch side session and should be on track for a return by midseason, if not sooner.

Game 5 Grapefruit League: Pirates 7, Red Sox 4

FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Clay Buchholz isn’t thinking about his back anymore when he pitches. David Ortiz’s home-run swing looks in midsummer form. Those were just a couple of highlights from Friday night’s game at JetBlue Park.

What went right: Ortiz clocked one over the visitor’s bullpen in right field. Darnell McDonald took two big swings, clearing the Monster with a towering homer and reaching on a double. Michael Bowden, who is out of options, gave manager Bobby Valentine something to think about with a strong inning of work. Buchholz threw some good changeups and curves over his three-inning stint.

What went wrong: Vicente Padilla simply didn’t have it, giving up five hits and four runs over two innings. Padilla is part of the crowded competition trying to win a spot in the rotation or the bullpen.

What they said: “I really like Michael Bowden. His fastball was down in the zone. I’m not sure of the speed because we don’t have guns here. It looked like it was 91, 92. When it was down in the zone he had a good split working off of it. His split, again, from the side, but I have a pretty good perspective of things, I think, it looked like it was a pitch that was very hard to recognize. I liked what I saw. He’s going to get more quality innings, move up in the game a little.” – Bobby Valentine.

What’s next: Working on a transition from the bullpen to the rotation, Daniel Bard makes his second Grapefruit League start in a 7:05 p.m. ET home contest, which will air on MLB.TV, on Saturday against the Rays. Bard tossed two scoreless innings his first time out. Alfredo Aceves, Clay Mortensen, Brandon Duckworth, Matt Albers and Junichi Tazawa are also scheduled to pitch. Righty Wade Davis s the Rays’ scheduled starter.

Injury update: Andrew Bailey (lat strain) has been cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut on Monday. Lefty Andrew Miller (elbow stiffness) will resume throwing on Saturday. Carl Crawford (left wrist) was cleared to start throwing again and should get back on a hitting program within the next couple of days.

Game 2 Grapefruit League: Red Sox 10, Twins 2

FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Break up the Red Sox. They’re off to a 2-0 start in Grapefruit League action, both wins coming against the Twins. All kidding aside, there were a lot of encouraging developments on Monday night.

What went right: Clay Buchholz pitched in a game for the first time since June 16 of last season, and looked healthy in doing so. The righty pitched two shutout innings. Vicente Padilla, trying to nail down a rotation spot, also looked good, wiggling out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam and firing two scoreless innings. Jose Iglesias dropped down a bunt single, stole a base and started a nifty 6-4-3 double play.

What went wrong: Carl Crawford learned earlier in the day that his goal of playing on Opening Day is probably over. The left fielder will curtail hitting and throwing activities for five to seven days as he bounces back from left wrist surgery.

What they said: “I liked seeing him in the competitive mode that he was in tonight. He’s a fierce competitor. His pitches were good. He didn’t pitch that well with them. But I liked what we saw. I think he’s going to be a welcomed addition to this staff.” – Bobby Valentine on Buchholz.

What’s next: Daniel Bard, who is transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, gets his first start of Spring Training in Tuesday’s 1:35 p.m. ET contest against the Orioles. Alfredo Aceves, also vying for a rotation spot, will work out of the bullpen. So, too, will highly touted prospect Alex Wilson. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez should be back in the lineup after getting the night off on Monday.

Injury update: Closer Andrew Bailey could pitch in a game later this week, which would mark his first appearance in a Boston uniform. Bailey had been slowed by a mild lat strain.

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