Red Sox

Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox

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Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox

KANSAS CITY -- Part of becoming an established starting pitcher is learning how to finish what you start.

Daniel Bard thought he was going to do that Tuesday night. Instead, some sudden wildness cost Bard the chance to go deeper into the game, and ultimately, cost the Red Sox the game.

Bard had limited the Kansas City Royals to three runs over the first seven innings, and after a shaky second, had allowed just three hits -- all singles -- from the third through the seventh.

But in the eighth inning, feeling some fatigue, Bard lost the strike zone, issuing two walks to open the inning and leaving a mess for Matt Albers to clean up. Albers surrendered a three-run homer to Billy Butler, sending the Sox to a 6-4 defeat.

Bard had thrown 87 pitches after seven and was eager to continue.

"I felt great," said Bard. "I felt strong. You get to 90 pitches, I'm not tired to the point where I need to come out of the game by any means. But there is a fatigue that sets in. It's about learning how to pitch with that little bit of fatigue.

"It's not my arm. My arm felt great. It's your whole body -- your legs, your lower back. You have to learn how to pitch under those conditions. It's kind of where I'm at right now -- trying to learn how to finish games and get through that 100-110 pitches, strong all the way toward the end instead of tailing off and losing command late."

Bard could feel himself coming out of his normal delivery with the two walks.

"I was trying to do too much," he said. "I kind of smelled the finish line and wanted to get that win for our team really bad. I just tried to do a little too much with those pitches and maybe didn't trust them to the middle of the zone like I had been."

If the eighth inning was Bard's doing, then surely the second inning was his most bizarre. He was charged with two balks -- one scored a run and another led to a second run being scored -- while walking one and throwing a wild pitch.

"I chalked it up to just being a fluke thing," said Bard of the balks. "It sucks that they got three runs out of it; they probably get one or two there either way, even without them. I just tried to settle back in. I knew I was making good pitches and I wasn't going to let that take me out of my game completely."

From there, Bard seemed to get groundouts in bunches. From the third through the seventh, he got 10 of the 12 outs on the ground. Those outs helped Bard be more efficient with his pitch count.

"Mostly fastballs in," revealed Bard. "Sinkers to righties, and four-seamers in to lefties. It's a little weird, to be honest, because I'm used to getting punch-outs regularly, usually about one per inning or so. But I'll take outs anyway I can get them."

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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