BOSTON (CBS) – It is not the spot Daniel Bard prefers but he felt just fine coming out of the bullpen Monday night, helping the Red Sox to a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.
“It was a little weird just being out there since I haven’t done it this year yet. But it was like riding a bike,” Bard said after picking up the win for Boston, his first of the season. “I have a pretty well-established routine from the last three years and it was pretty easy to get back into it.”
Bard was part of the Red Sox bullpen the last three seasons before being converted to a starter this spring. With his Sunday start against the Yankees rained out, the Red Sox chose to skip Bard’s turn in the rotation and use him out of the pen on Monday.
Bard entered Monday’s game in a tight spot. With the score tied 5-5, he came in with one out and the go-ahead run on third base. Facing the Twins 4-5-6 batters, Bard needed just 11 pitches to get the two outs he was called upon for. He got Josh Willingham to line out to third, and after an intentional walk to Justin Morneau, got Ryan Doumit to fly out to short.
A walk in the park for Bard, who said he’s used to pressure situations like that.
“I was in jams my last start too and worked out of those. It’s not really a lot different; you’re just a little fresher when you haven’t thrown any pitches before getting into them,” he said.
“Well, he said he’d do what’s best for the team and we had a tough situation there. I didn’t think it would be that tough,” manager Bobby Valentine said after the win. “He got a 3-2 line drive to third, a popup to short and a win in his win column. He allowed everybody to be happy campers.”
Bard would have returned for the ninth inning had Cody Ross not homered to put Boston on top 6-5. Instead, Alfredo Aceves came in for the save, notching his third of the season.
While he may be viewed as the bullpen savior for one night, Bard wants to be clear that he is still a starter. And the team agrees with him on that front.
“I asked a lot of questions as to what their goals were in this. They said right now they had every intention of it being temporary,” Bard said of a discussion he had with Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington. “I still view myself as a starter, and they said they do too.”
“That’s the one thing I told them right away; I’m totally willing to do this,” he said. “I was ok with it, but I told them I’m not going to be able to make eight guys pitch better. I can go down and do what I can, and if that offers maybe some comfort to other guys and lets them fall into their roles, it will help everybody.”
So for now, the debate will rage on. Is Bard worth more in the rotation or in the bullpen? The question will only gain more traction with Aaron Cook impressing in the minors and Diasuke Matsuzaka working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
But at least for now, the Red Sox can enjoy a win for the first time in a week.
“It was good man; any way we can do it,” Bard said of the W. “The feeling of winning games is always good; maybe give a little momentum heading into tomorrow.”