BOSTON (CBS) – Daniel Bard has struggled this spring as he tries to make the conversion from reliever to starter.
The Red Sox still have not made their five man rotation official, and with a week remaining until opening day there are doubts that Bard can earn one of the two final spots.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports joined The DA Show Monday night, and said that even if the stats aren’t there this spring, he expects Bard to be in the Boston rotation come April 5.
“They’ve come too far with this to turn back. They could obviously put (Alfredo) Aceves and (Felix) Doubront in the rotation and put Bard back in the bullpen, but Bard wants to do this, the front office wants to do this, and it seems that there’s a lot of momentum for it. There is really, at this point, no reason not to do it,” said Rosenthal.
“This is an experiment they embarked on, and to abandon it at this point –with less than two weeks to go until opening day – that would surprise me.”
Now just because he starts the season in the rotation does not mean Bard could not return to the bullpen at some point if he struggles as a starter. How hard would it be for Bard to go back to the bullpen after training to be a starter all winter and spring?
“The impression I get from Bard is he’s a team guy and he’s level headed about this. He basically said whatever they do, they will do,” said Rosenthal. “He has not given any indication that this would mess with him mentally, and in fact, in some ways you can make the argument that because this is the role he is comfortable in -the setup role – this could be good for him.”
Rosenthal also touched on the possible rift between Valentine and General Manager Ben Cherington, in which Valentine prefers Bard in the bullpen and Jose Iglesias to start the season in Boston. Bobby V shot down those reports on Monday, but Rosenthal said with Valentine, anything can happen.
“There is that possibility,” he said of a power struggle with the Sox. “He has squabbled with his GMs before, he’s a strong personality and it would not be a shock if he had some differences with his GM. It is quite common for managers to differ from GMs with their outlook on the team… the manager is worried about winning today; he needs to keep his job, he’s trying to do the best for the team right now. The general manager is charged with putting together the long-term vision of the organization and executing that vision. There are times these things come into conflict.”
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“Iglesias is kind of a classic case. But if you really look at Iglesias, it’s very obviously he needs to get back to Triple A, spend some time there and work on his offense before coming up and making an impact with the Red Sox,” said Rosenthal. “Could he do it defensively? Absolutely. But Aviles has had a good spring. He’s not going to give you the D Iglesias would give you, but here’s a guy when you are without Carl Crawford, and you have a right field question a little bit, you might need some offense.”
“That kind of discussion goes on all the time, but I would be really surprised if Bobby V was throwing down the gauntlet for Jose Iglesias. He’s intrigued by him, and we may see Jose Iglesias before long, but the rationale of sending him to the minors is a very sound one, and one that I’m sure Valentine understands,” said Rosenthal.
Also, how fragile is Daniel Bard’s psyche? Why didn’t the Red Sox go out and invest in a veteran #4 starter? And what is the Red Sox’ biggest issue heading into the season?