Having struggled in his last two starts, Daniel Bard could return to the bullpen, CSN New England’s Sean McAdam reports.
McAdam says that a Red Sox staff member has told people outside of the organization that the team is prepared to go with Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront at the back of the rotation, leaving Bard out of the mix.
Bard started the spring strong, pitching five scoreless innings in his first two appearances, but he was lit up for seven runs by the Cardinals on March 15 and he wasn’t very sharp in allowing three runs over five innings to the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Overall, he’s walked 10 in 12 2/3 innings this spring.
Furthermore, the Red Sox were disappointed that Bard threw just one changeup in his 83-pitch outing Tuesday. “He’s got to understand that pitch,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “It could really be that pitch that gets the contact when we need some soft contact situations.”
If the Red Sox do return Bard to the pen, it’d probably be in his familiar eighth-inning role. Bard was considered by most to be the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, but that figures to be Andrew Bailey’s job to start. Bard could always take over later is Bailey struggles or, more likely, gets hurt.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.