Daniel Bard struggles in first appearance since demotion

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Daniel Bard was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket this week after posting a 5.24 ERA, a league-leading eight hit batsmen and a 34/37 K/BB ratio over 55 innings. His first appearance in the minors suggests that a return to the Red Sox is not imminent.

According to Ian Browne of MLB.com, Bard allowed three runs in one inning last night against the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. While he struck out two, he also gave up two hits and hit two batters. He threw 16 out of 25 pitches for strikes and topped out at 96 mph on his fastball.

While Bard started the game, he was only scheduled to pitch one inning and he was more focused on his mechanics than the results.

“The best thing about throwing down here is you can kind of ignore the results and not worry about wins and losses as much,” Bard said. “[I was] trying some tweaks mechanically, and I think it was really good on some pitches — and that’s what I was looking for, to get that feel. I didn’t expect it to be perfect on every pitch. The pitches it felt good on did what they were supposed to and went where they were supposed to [go].”

Bard won’t have to wait long to put last night’s outing behind him. He’s scheduled to make his next appearance Monday, likely throwing two innings. It hasn’t been decided whether he’ll start the game or come out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.