Daniel Bard is being stretched out as a starter this spring after spending the past four seasons (including three in the majors) as a reliever. He tossed five scoreless innings over his first two Grapefruit League appearances, but was blasted for seven runs over 2 2/3 innings on Thursday against the Cardinals.
We shouldn’t panic about one bad performance, especially one that was interrupted by a rain delay, but two anonymous scouts told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox are making a mistake by moving him to the rotation.
“Bard should be in the pen,” the A.L. scout said. “He’s a thrower, not a pitcher. And he’s had success in the pen. I’d have made him the closer once (Jonathan) Papelbon left.”
The other scout agreed, but believes that the Red Sox will give Bard half a season in the rotation before reevaluating. The 26-year-old has his fair share of doubters, in part because he had a disastrous 7.08 ERA and 47/78 K/BB ratio (you’re reading that correctly) over 75 innings as a starter during his first pro season in 2007, but it’s hard to put much stock in those numbers since he was 22 years old at the time and was using different mechanics. He has a chance to provide much more value to the Red Sox as a starter as opposed to a reliever, so this is a worthy experiment.
Of course, Bard has walked seven batters over 7 2/3 innings this spring, which is a bit of a concern after his command suddenly eluded him last September.
CC Sabathia‘s contract is set to expire this offseason, but for the long-tenured left-hander, nowhere feels more like home than New York. “I want to see this through,” Sabathia told reporters after a devastating Game 7 loss in the ALCS. “This is where I want to play.” Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman spoke warmly of the veteran starter, but would make no public guarantees that he’d return to the team next spring.
Sabathia, 37, just topped off his 17th season in the big leagues and his eighth career postseason run. He went 14-5 in 27 starts and put up a 3.69 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 148 2/3 innings, good for 1.9 fWAR. He looked solid in the playoffs, too, propelling the team to a much-needed win in Game 5 of the ALDS and returning in the Championship Series with six scoreless innings in Game 3. His season ended on a sour note during Game 7, however. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings against a dynamic Astros’ offense, allowing one run on five hits and three walks and failing to record a single strikeout for the first time in 23 career postseason appearances.
Heading into the 2017 offseason, Sabathia finally arrived at the end of his seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees. While he’s repeatedly expressed a desire to keep pitching, despite rumors that his career might be on the rocks following the diagnosis of a troublesome degenerative knee condition, the decision isn’t his alone to make. Brian Cashman will also be seeking an extension with the Yankees this winter, so it’s difficult to say which impending free agents the club will try to retain — and Sabathia’s name isn’t the only one on that list. If it were up to skipper Joe Girardi, who is awaiting a decision on his own future with the organization, the decision would be a no-brainer. From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
CC will always be special to me because of what he stands for and the great player that he is, the great man that he is,” Girardi said. “The wonderful teammate that he is. How he pulls a team together. He’s as good as I’ve ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you’re on a losing streak or that you can count on, and knowing that it could be the possible last time.