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Red Sox send Daniel Bard to Triple-A

Jun 5, 2012, 3:45 PM EDT

Daniel Bard Getty Getty Images

Daniel Bard‘s move from the bullpen to the rotation has been anything but smooth, as the formerly dominant reliever posted a 5.30 ERA with more walks (36) than strikeouts (34) through 10 starts while showing significantly diminished velocity.

Bard failed to make it out of the second inning Sunday against the Blue Jays, walking six of the 13 batters he faced while allowing five runs, and manager Bobby Valentine hinted afterward that a change would be coming. And sure enough Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have sent Bard to Triple-A.

Presumably by sending Bard to the minors instead of moving him back to the bullpen the Red Sox are still planning to go forward with him as a starter. Or maybe they just think he’s so screwed up right now that he needs some Triple-A time even if he’s bullpen bound.

In 193 career relief appearances Bard has a 2.87 ERA, .190 opponents’ batting average, and 213 strikeouts in 198 innings, so realizing he’s not cut out to start and making him a setup man again is hardly disastrous for the Red Sox. Assuming, of course, that spending the past two months struggling as a starter hasn’t had some sort of permanent impact on the 26-year-old’s raw stuff and/or confidence.

And now there’s a spot in the rotation for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 5.1 innings of one-run ball in his last minor-league rehab start over the weekend and is seemingly close to returning from Tommy John surgery.

  1. Jason Chalifour - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Not a surprise that he was sent down. Trying to make Bard a starter was worth a shot as he had a three pitch mix and appeared to have put his control problems that he had in the minors behind him. Sunday was clearly the nadir as he was throwing slider after slider because he lost all control of his fastball. I said on my website yesterday that farming him out would be the way to go. I think a good comp for him is Ryan Madson. Hopefully he can similarly rebound from a failed crack at the rotation.

    • baseballisboring - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      I’m actually surprised they sent him back to AAA, I thought they would probably just shift him right to the bullpen. The Sox bullpen has been really good lately, though. I guess there’s no harm in sending him down for a few appearances to let him get back in his relief groove, my guess is he’s back within two weeks or so.

      • Jason Chalifour - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        The pen has been good and if Sunday is any indication he can’t pitch in a MLB game. At least in AAA they can throw him out there without te club or pitcher worrying too much about results.

      • baseballisboring - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        Sunday isn’t any indication, it’s just one game. Like I said, give him a couple appearances in the minors to get back in the groove and he’ll be back, sooner than later. I’d be surprised if he’s down there more than a couple weeks.

      • drewzducks - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        Unfortunately they’re saying he’s going down there to pitch as a starter.

      • baseballisboring - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:12 AM

        Lame…I would’ve thought they would give up on that experiment. I was optimistic about it before the season, too, but it sure ain’t workin.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Not a good sign for Beantown that the return of Dice-K (who many predicted would never pitch in a Red Sox uni again) is eagerly anticipated.

    • baseballisboring - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Not a big deal, and I don’t think he’s being “eagerly anticiated”. But the way Doubront has been pitching, Bard was clearly the #5 anyway. Dice K will slide into the #5 spot, probably can’t be any worse than Bard was, and soon enough Bard will be our relief ace again. Net gain.

      • pisano - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:05 AM

        I’m kind of confused, when was he ever your relief ace?

      • baseballisboring - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:15 AM

        Well…he would’ve been if he had started this year in the pen. So…yeah, never, I dunno why I said that. But he WILL be our relief ace when he gets back to the ‘pen. Like I said, the bullpen has been holding it down, but it’s more due to a few fluky performances than anything.

      • lardin - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:09 AM

        What makes you think Bard will go back to being “our relief ace”? He currently has none of the skills to make a good, let alone great relief pitcher. He walks to many people, doesnt strike out enough, and has lost mph on his fastball.

        Yes, I know he was starting and the speed should be down, but he should be capable of throwing a pitch at 97 every now and then. He hasnt.

      • baseballisboring - Jun 6, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        Uh, have you watched him? Cause every start I’ve seen from him this year he was sitting 94-95, touching 97 occasionally.

        I don’t understand how anyone can say he doesn’t have the skills to be a good/great relief pitcher when he’s been one his whole career before this year. The term “relief ace” is relative by the way, he’s certainly better than Aceves for god’s sake.

        They miscast him as a starter, he struggled mightily. And apparently they’re still trying to work him out as a starter, which I think is dumb. But his stuff hasn’t slipped. Starting is completely different than relieving. All it would take is a shift back to the bullpen to turn him back into what he was last year, a pitcher who struck out over 9 per nine innings and walked less than three. Relief ace material.

    • bbil2012 - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      Who cannot wait for the return of Dice-K?

  3. Jack Marshall - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    When Dice-K is healthy, he’s a lot better than Bard was as a starter. People forget that Dice-K’s last start before hurting his arm was terrific. He’s an infuriating pitcher, but better than the average #5.

    And I don’t see why anyone assumes Bard will be back soon, when the Sox already have two terrific relievers at AAA who don’t have a slot.

    It wasn’t “one game.” It was an epically bad game, and good pitchers don’t generally lose the strike zone that badly, even for one game.

  4. proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Besides all the walks, he also hit 2 batters on Sunday. E5 will not be in the Jays lineup today thanks to Bard.

    • patsandsox - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Canadian, I felt really bad for the players Bard hit and the safety of the Jays players. I was glad when Valentine pulled Bard from the game. I felt it was as much for safety of your team as it was for trying to win a game.

  5. patsandsox - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    H needs to spend a month or two as a starter in triple a to learn to be a starter if that is what he is determined to be. I think that is why they sent him down because he doesnt want to go back to the bullpen.
    If he would give up the desire to be a starter he would not be down long. If he really wants to be a starter he needs to spend at least a half a season in triple a like everyone else that earns the role.

    the Red Sox are very fortunate they have Dubrount! He has been the Ace of the staff this season. To have developed a young starter like him allows them to bring in Dicek as the number five guy and put up with him for the rest of the season. He cannot be any worse than Bard has been.

  6. uyf1950 - Jun 5, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    You have to ask yourself. What took so long to make that decision.

    • lardin - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Money, the Sox are giving Bard every chance to succeed as a starter, since its better for their bottom line going forward

  7. mrwillie - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    We’re not in Chapel Hill anymore Toto… a Carolina fan, I hope he get’s it back together. It’s been a rough weekend for UNC baseball.

  8. sabatimus - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    I called it. The moment I heard that they were moving Bard to a starting role (after grooming him to be closer for at least two seasons) I thought it was a terrible idea and potentially a wreck to his arm. And now he’s in the minors. Gee thanks Sox.

  9. neelyisgod - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Making room for Wakefields return on the next available start… It’s as simple as that.

  10. cereal blogger - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    Bard is an awesome reliever, he’s not a good starter. Whoever is making this decision is flat out wrong & cant get out of their own way…..

  11. aaronp2098 - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    I don’t understand still trying to convert him to a starter. It isn’t working and he has in the past effectively shut down a late inning. Even if you don’t want him closing at some point the offense rebounds and the Sox have some leads in the 8th inning and need a closer/late reliever to do their job for an inning. If he can get back to being that kind of pitcher. What he is doing now isn’t the Bard from 2-3 yrs ago.

  12. istillbelieveinblue - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Last night vs. Indianapolis:

    Dice-K: 1.1IP, 3H, 1ER, 2BB, 2K. 40 pitches, 22 strikes
    Mark Prior (Yes, THAT Mark Prior): 1.2IP 2H, 0ER, 0BB, 5K. 28 pitches, 21 strikes.

    I don’t know what Mark’s velocity was like, or how his shoulder feels today, but the raw numbers look impressive.

  13. istillbelieveinblue - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Last night vs. Indianapolis:

    Dice-K: 1.1IP, 3H, 1ER, 2BB, 2K. 40 pitches, 22 strikes
    Mark Prior (Yes, THAT Mark Prior): 1.2IP 2H, 0ER, 0BB, 5K. 28 pitches, 21 strikes.

    I don’t know what Mark’s velocity was like, or how his shoulder feels today, but the raw numbers look impressive.

    • istillbelieveinblue - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

      Sorry for the double post, not sure exactly what happened. I’d delete it, but WordPress won’t let me. Only the site administrator can edit or delete comments (or so the help files tell me). 😦

  14. surefooted1 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Why do teams F up promising young pitchers? Looks like another Phil Hughes/ Joba Chamberlain situation coming.

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