It doesn’t say much for his overall status that this is actually semi-newsworthy, but here goes: Daniel Bard threw two scoreless innings at Triple-A yesterday.
Working as a reliever Bard struck out four batters, walked one, and allowed zero hits in two frames for Pawtucket, lowering his ERA there to 9.00 ERA in four outings.
On one hand an impressive two-inning appearance is a big step in the right direction for Bard. On the other hand throwing two innings, no matter how impressive, seemingly indicates that he won’t be ready to jump back into the Red Sox’s rotation anytime soon. Or at least not without having pitch count limitations.
Returning to the majors as a reliever, however, could occur at any time and ultimately considering how shaky Bard looked transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation he might be better off if that happens anyway.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.