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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.