All Sox players have reported for spring training in Fort Myers, Florida and WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche is down there as well.
Roche called in to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Ryan Johnston and Mike Flynn, filling in for Toucher & Rich, Friday morning to give the lay of the land down in Fort Myers.
One of the big stories down in camp is Daniel Bard’s switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation. It’s a move that Rochie thinks the 26-year-old fireballer will handle with ease.
“He started in the minor leagues as a starter. He did that at UNC where he played college ball. He made 75 appearances, or an average around there, and that’s a lot,” said Rochie.
Now that he will be facing batters more than once, Bard will have to add to his fastball and slider. He has been working on his change-up and curve, and those pitches will be important when it comes to the middle and late innings.
“A lot of guys can breeze through the first three innings of the game and go up and down the order, then the second time around these guys are so good they can make adjustments. He needs to come up with a third, maybe a fourth pitch, to get him through so the next time they come up, instead of throwing fastball strike one, you throw curve ball strike one,” said Roche. “He’s definitely aware of that, and that’s the biggest challenge for him. He’s got a ridiculous fastball that can approach 100-mph, a nasty slider he can take something off and it looks like another pitch, but can that change-up, can he throw that curveball, can he work on another pitch to where he has a repertoire and is effective.”
Roche Blog: Talk From Behind The Plate
While he thinks Bard will succeed at the back-end of the rotation, Roche thinks that both he and Alfredo Aceves would be better served making up a strong Sox bullpen.
“I would throw them back in (the bullpen) a heartbeat. I would take my chances with the Carlos Silvas, Vicente Padillas and Aaron Cooks of the world and see if you can get something out of the four and five spot,” he said. “If you throw Bard and Aceves back in the bullpen, with (Mark) Melancon and (Andrew) Bailey and Franklin Morales, you have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.”