Red Sox

Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

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Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

PAWTUCKET, R.I. It would have been understandable if Daniel Bard had chosen not to speak to the media after his outing Monday night. Not appreciated, but understood. After all, its not the easiest thing to go back to the minor leagues when you were formerly a lights-out pitcher (albeit, in an entirely different role) in the big leagues.

Instead, Bard, was loquacious in his answers, explaining, among other things, what he is trying to accomplish with Triple-A Pawtucket since his demotion June 7 and the decision to not start Monday night as originally planned, working out of the pen instead.

Q: How do you look at your outings here, measuring what youre trying to accomplish?
Bard: Yeah, I think the nice thing about being down here is that the wins and losses arent quite as important and you can really focus on getting the work in and kind of look at the process more than the result, which is harder to focus on when youre up there pitching for Boston. That wouldnt allow me to do that.

Q: Why the decision to not start Monday?
Bard: I just told them after that last one Friday I said that starting with the intention of going one inning just felt really strange. I mean, it felt like a very manufactured situation, didnt feel like I was really part of a baseball game. So I just told them , I said Im all good with the short stints closer together. I think thats a good way to get back on track. But I dont see, if were trying to go with more of a bullpen feel, which is kind of what they talked to me about when we get through this and then translate to starting, I said why dont we just do it out of the bullpen? So, I told them lets just do that. And they were ok with it, with the intent of doing this a few times and like I said, translating back to starting.

Q: What do you think of your outing Monday against the Gwinnett Braves?
Bard: It took me two batters I think to really get locked into an arm slot. I was a little bit low, lower than I would like on those first couple hitters and you saw some balls running away from me. And then I make the adjustment and I think pitched pretty well to those last three guys. So the nice thing is I can focus on that and say I wasnt perfect but it doesnt matter. I was locked in, I got something good to walk away with those last three hitters.

Q: What did you think of your fastball and slider?
Bard: Fastball was good, got better as the inning went on. I think a lot of it is just the level of conviction that Im throwing it with and that got better as the inning went on. So thats all I can ask, because sometimes the slider kind of locks me back in. If Im missing with the fastball, throw a couple sliders and then throw the fastball off of that. So its kind of what I did tonight.

Q: The decision to not start makes people think youll eventually be back in bullpen for the Red Sox. What are your thoughts on that?
Bard: Thats fine. People are going to think whatever they want. I think its not a secret that Ive had success out of the bullpen. I think its no secret that thats where Im most comfortable the adrenaline rush that comes with it, the added pressure of getting loose quick and everything, thats where Im comfortable. Still while we can say that, I think we still have to say Im not ready to give up on starting. I think, like I said after the Toronto outing before I even knew I was getting optioned, was that we, I think, we had changed too many things to try to become a starting pitcher rather than take the same pitcher Ive been the last three or four years and put that guy in a starting role. So I think this is a good first step in that process.

Q: How much of what youre trying to accomplish down here is related to confidence and how much is physical?
Bard: Well, I dont think, confidence is not an issue at all. I think it was I mechanically got out of whack my last I dont want to say my last few starts because I felt really good against Detroit May 29 and that wasnt that long ago. It was maybe 10 or 11, 12 days ago. So I dont think confidence is an issue. My mechanics needed to get back in check. Ill be the first to admit it and this wouldn't have been my first choice of how to fix it but thats what they decided for me and Im trying to make the best of it. So, obviously getting sent down to Triple A is a little bit of a reality check for you and you try not to let it affect your confidence because I know how good of a pitcher I am and how good I can be. So just using it as an opportunity to work on some stuff and in a lower-pressure environment.

Q: Whats next in the process?
Bard: I think well do, I dont think theres a number put on anything but probably another one or two of these type outings. Maybe go two innings if I have a quick first inning, kind of thing, just to really get that feel back. If the next two or three go really well, well look from there and see where the needs are.

Q: It would seem that a one-inning outing is like starting from square one?
Bard: Not really. I think its just, I think I could have just gone to the obviously the way the roster was set up at the time, probably could have just gone to the bullpen and gotten two or three outings in the big leagues and missed a start maybe. But we didnt have a lot of roster flexibility. Its nobodys fault. Its just how it is. So Im getting that same work in down here.

Q: How is that different from making starts for Pawtucket?
Bard: Well I think it wasnt, it just kind of points to how its allowing me to get my delivery to where Im comfortable, where I want it to be. And if theyre sending me out there every five days for 90, 100 pitches, if it doesnt go how we want, if I dont feel the way I want to feel, then were kind of wasting five days, instead of if I went out there tonight and didnt like how I felt, then screw it, we wasted one day, 20 pitches and I come back in three days and I can try to correct it. Tonight felt good. I think it was not perfect but like I said we can focus on the process. Tonight I think it was a good step in the right direction.

His post-game session wrapped, Bard thanked the handful of writers, then wished us a good night. Gracious and loquacious.

Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

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Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be looking closely at the Yankees' and Astros' rosters, but chairman Tom Werner was on Friday.

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“Sure there’s pressure,” Werner said at Winter Weekend when asked about the Yankees’ pick-up of Giancarlo Stanton and the Astros’ addition of Gerrit Cole.  “Houston was formidable last year. I thought we played them competitively in Fenway Park. They’ve obviously improved. But if we have the kind of performances I expect from some of our players this year — obviously we’re looking for some more improvement from certain players. Hopefully, a healthy David Price will be very important to that. 

"I think we have an excellent team, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees have improved, there’s no question about it. They have a deep bullpen and a great offense. But I like our chances.”

At the Boston baseball writers awards dinner on Thursday, Sox president Sam Kennedy cracked a joke about Dombrowski presenting Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with an Apple Watch as a gift.

“I’m sure that when Judge and Stanton come to Fenway Park this year, it’ll be electric,” Werner said.

It’s not exactly an offseason punch-for-punch dynamic with the Sox and Yankees, though, as it was circa 2003-04.

“Not specifically,” Werner said of countering Stanton. “It’s important for us to be competitive with them, but we’re not trying to play chess with them.”

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Yawkey Way will not become David Ortiz Way, for those who may have been holding out hope for the street to be renamed after him, or any other recent star.

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“We’ve talked about several different names,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said on Friday evening at Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “There’s been talk about the possibility of returning to what the original name was, which was Jersey Street. It’s been made clear in our research and due diligence that you can’t currently petition for a living person when there’s other property owners on the street. There’s a provision that allows you to petition for a name of a living person if there aren’t other property abbuters on the street. So living person is out of the question. So we’ve had a few different ideas, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Kennedy said the Sox are in conversations with the city and neighboring property owners on Yawkey Way about renaming the street. 

“We have to have a sponsor of our petition, so we’re engaged in those discussions right now and would anticipate a petition being filed,” Kennedy said. “The mayor has been terrific and his staff understand our desire to formally petition, but we’ve got to get a resolution on a few logistical items — like a name, for one — that we’re going to formally petition for.”

A next step could come within a couple weeks, although Kennedy wasn’t firm about that timeline.

“But I’ve said that before, and it’s just a lot of behind the scenes steps that you have to take getting formal approvals from property owners and elected officials,” Kennedy said. “The club can petition for the name and then ultimately as John Henry said back in August, [it’s] a public process. … it’s our decision to request a name.”

• More netting is coming to Fenway to protect fans from batted balls and such.

“Before 2016, we expanded to the inside wall of the dugouts and we’re going to beyond that in 2018,” Kennedy said. “All the way down to about Field Box 79 down the left field line, and then all the way down to almost canvas alley in the Field Box 9 area. So we’re still finalizing the exact dimensions, but it will be a dramatic expansion of our netting … beyond the dugout down the third base line and the first base line.”

  • Sox chairman Tom Werner supports pace of play initiatives, and said he’s heard from Red Sox players who support it as well — even though the players union decided to shoot down a proposal from the league, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. MLB can unilaterally make changes but ideally, the union and league would come to an agreement together.
     

“As you know the commissioner is having ongoing talks with Tony Clark and the union,” Werner said. “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s too much dead time in the game. And as I’ve said, it’s really not about pace of play but like trying to have less dead time. Last year the average game, the time was higher than it’s ever been in history. And I think we have talked about some common sense ideas. We’re not the only league as you know who is looking at dead time. 

“But just for an example, I think that to have the managers or the catchers go up, or the second baseman just be able to talk to the pitcher whenever they want, we should address that. So we’ve addressed a pitch clock in the minor leagues. I think it’s working. But I’m hopeful certainly that the union and owners will come together on this. Because I think it’s something that the fans are expecting.”

  • Sox ticket sales are not doing quite as well as they were a year ago, Kennedy said. 
     

"We’re very healthy and humbled by the fan support,” Kennedy said. “We sold [out Winter Weekend] faster than ever before, about three weeks. There will be between 6,000 and 7,000 people here, which is really a testament to Red Sox fans. You’ve got an unbelievable sports market as we all know with the Patriots and what they’re doing, the Bruins and Celtics at the top of their games. 

“We’ve got people buying tickets [for games] at a pace consistent with 2015 and 2016. We are slightly down from last year, I think there was a big bump from Chris Sale, understandably, so about 6 percent down from last year, which is understandable given it’s been a very slow moving offseason in terms of baseball news. But we continue to be grateful and humbled by the support we get.”

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