BOSTON (CBS) – Daniel Bard is back in the bullpen for the Red Sox, at least for the time being.
With Sunday’s rain-out against the Yankees, Boston will skip Bard’s spot in the rotation, instead making the righty available out of the pen for the upcoming three-game series against the Twins in Minnesota.
“Daniel will have an opportunity to pitch either in a bullpen session or out of the bullpen in the next couple of days,” manager Bobby Valentine said Sunday. “This isn’t one of the easy decisions, but it has to be made and that’s how we made it.”
While it seems Boston has struggled on nearly all fronts in this young season, the bullpen has been the most glaring issue. Boston blew a 9-1 lead against the Yankees on Saturday, further magnifying the problem out of the pen.
The Boston bullpen has an 8.44 ERA so far this season, allowing 40 runs in 42.2 innings, last in the majors. Teams are batting .335 against the pen so far, blasting 60 hits and 11 home runs.
So for now the Red Sox will turn to Daniel Bard to help right the ship, albeit for just a few days. Valentine would like to use Bard in a setup role — a role he fulfilled behind Jonathan Papelbon last season — keeping Alfredo Aceves as the team’s closer.
“I’d like to use him if we have a lead in the eighth inning just as he’s been comfortable doing in the past,” said Valentine. “I don’t think it’s an easy job. It should be acceptable physically.”
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However, Valentine would not commit to keeping Bard in the pen for an extended period of time. Bard’s next scheduled start is Friday against the White Sox.
“As the plan is now, he’s our fifth starter,” Valentine said of Bard, who is 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA in two starts this season.
If Bard is successful in helping the floundering bullpen, the Red Sox do have an option in Pawtucket in Aaron Cook to take over at the back of the rotation. Cook is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts this season, allowing just three earned runs off 13 hits in 20 innings.
But it appears Bard’s return to the bullpen will only be temporary, at least this time around.