Daniel Bard on recent struggles: “It’s something I’ve fixed before and I’ll fix it again”

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Plenty of pitchers go through stretches of struggling to throw strikes, but Daniel Bard’s recent wildness is particularly worrisome because his career was nearly derailed by extreme control problems in the minors.

Bard walked 78 batters in 78 innings as a starter at Single-A in 2007, but moved to the bullpen the next season and has been a dominant reliever ever since.

However, after being unhittable for most of this year Bard has coughed up nine runs in his last three appearances while walking five of 17 batters.

For a guy who came into September with a 2.03 ERA and 63/15 K/BB ratio in 62 innings that’s not what the Red Sox want to see at this point in the season, but Bard told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he’s confident about getting back on track:

The timing with my delivery is just not there. I can feel it on every pitch. Something feels a little bit different. I’ve been through it before. The effects of it are kind of magnified by how big these games are. Sometimes you go out there and your mechanics are kind of off and you get through an inning when they swing at a few pitches out the zone and it gets you back in it. Unfortunately for me, they haven’t been doing that lately. It’s something I’ve fixed before, and I’ll fix it again. I’ll do what it takes the next couple of days to put in the work and find my delivery again.

Hopefully he’s right, although as Bard noted there’s a big difference between fixing mechanical and control problems at Single-A and doing the same in the majors, in September, with every appearance coming in a crucial spot.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.