The “Daniel Bard as a starter” experiment is over…at least for the rest of the 2012 season. Bard and the Red Sox have agreed that is in the best interest of the right-hander and the team if the pitcher moves back to a bullpen role for the remainder of this season.
Bard, 26,flourished as a setup man behind Jonathan Papelbon from 2009-2011 before deciding prior to this season that he would try to convert into a starter and win a role in the Red Sox rotation.
It didn’t go well.
Bard was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 7 after posting a 5-6 record with a 5.24 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance for the Red Sox this season. He made one start for the PawSox before being used out of the bullpen, where he will stay until he is called back up to Boston.
When he is, the team will likely place him back in his old eighth-inning setup job, behind closer Alfredo Aceves.
As for his time as a starter, Bard said he’s not ready to rule out another attempt at the starting rotation down the road, but right now a move to the bullpen is what makes sense for both parties:
“[Red Sox GM Ben Cherington] tried to make it sound like it wasn’t permanent in his mind, if I wanted to still go back to starting next year, they’d be open to it, but I told them for now this is where I want to be, in the bullpen,” Bard said.
“I’m not ready even to say it failed. Obviously I wasn’t our best starter, but I wasn’t the worst guy in the American League by any means, either,” Bard said. “Yeah, I wish I could’ve had a couple of those outings back, but I had some good starts, too. I proved to myself that I can do it. Obviously I wanted it to be able to stick, but it didn’t, and here I am.”
“After going and doing it a couple of times it felt like I belonged,” Bard said. “It felt like that was what I was meant to do is pitch late in games. My skill set and my experience is built for that type of role. It’s just a feeling, and there’s conviction to it. Everyone I’ve talked to, including how I feel myself, I know I can be a good starter, but I already know I’m a great reliever. Maybe that’s what I was meant to do, and I’ll try to embrace it from here on out.”
I’ve said from the beginning that I didn’t think Bard should have left the bullpen, especially when there was finally a chance for him to win the closer’s job left vacated by Papelbon, who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason.
Bard’s style of power pitching is much more fitting for a late-inning reliever than a six-seven inning starter and, like the right-hander said himself, he has already shown that he can be great in a late-inning role, which is a very valuable characteristic to be able to put on your resume as a Major League Baseball player – just ask Jonathan Papelbon and his $50 million.
But what’s done is done, and I’m glad that Bard and the Red Sox have finally come to an agreement that a return to the bullpen is what is best for both parties involved at this point in time.