Red Sox will try to make Daniel Bard a starter this spring

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New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed Sunday what many have suspected: Daniel Bard is going to be tried as a starter during spring training.

This via the Boston Globe‘s Michael Vega.

Bard was drafted as a starter out of the University of North Carolina in 2006 before being moved to the bullpen after a brutal debut season at Single-A in 2007. He’s open to being transitioned back, and the Red Sox are hopeful of catching lightning in a bottle.

Bard averaged 97.3 mph with his fastball in 2011. He’ll probably scale that back some, and begin implementing his curve and slider a bit more, but he has great ability and a decent chance to succeed.

If it doesn’t work out in spring camp, no harm done — they’ll simply move him back to his late-innings role.

Royals to sign Billy Hamilton

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Bowden reports that the Kansas City Royals are close to agreement with outfielder Billy Hamilton. He says they are “just working through bonuses and pending physical.” Hamilton was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds a couple of weeks ago following six seasons with the club, making him a free agent.

Hamilton is one of the fastest men to ever play the game, but he has never come around as a hitter. In his six seasons with the Reds he put up a line of .245/.298/.333 (OPS+ 70). While he has stolen 277 bases over that period, getting caught 63 times, he has never once led the league in steals, primarily because he just doesn’t get on base enough. He is an excellent center fielder, but the bat is so sub-par that even the glove and the wheels are not good enough to justify going to arbitration with him.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. He will certainly bring some excitement to Kansas City. He’s a fun guy to watch play.