Feb 18, 2012, 3:16 PM EST
Jonathan Papelbon‘s exit from Boston was expected to clear the way for Daniel Bard to step in as the Red Sox’s closer, but the 26-year-old has made the move to the rotation instead and Papelbon, speaking from Phillies camp in Florida, thinks that might well be for the best:
I actually had a long talk with Daniel this offseason about that. I’m excited to see what he can do. I think Daniel has a phenomenal career ahead of him, and in my opinion, there’s no reason why he can’t start. I think Daniel can do whatever he wants to do. He’s that good. And he’s matured into a phenomenal pitcher and is only going to get better, and I think the sky’s the limit for him. It truly, really is.
Five years ago this spring, Papelbon was asked to make a similar move, though he later made it clear that he preferred the pen. Bard seems to be embracing the change, and while it’s doubtful he’ll come close to throwing 200 innings for the Red Sox this year, he could prove to be an excellent fourth starter behind Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.
(Oh, and yes, that’s a picture of Papelbon and Bard practicing archery at Fenway Park. In between games of a doubleheader, no less.)