MINNEAPOLIS -- Pitcher Daniel Bard said he was told by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine that “they have every intention” of making his move to the bullpen temporary, but Bard did not rule out the possibility they could change their minds between now and his next scheduled start Friday in Chicago.
“’I’m not thinking about that right now,’’ Bard said before Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, in which he was told to “be ready” in the eighth inning. “It could happen. We’ll address that if it happens.’’
Valentine continues to maintain that with a scheduled day off and a rainout on the last homestand, the decision to skip Bard’s turn in the rotation was more about not forcing Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to wait a week between starts than trying to stabilize the bullpen, which has a major-league worst 8.44 ERA and has already surrendered 11 home runs.
“I asked a lot of questions as to what their goals were on this,’’ Bard said. “They said right now they have every intention of it being temporary and making my start on Friday.’’
Asked if he viewed himself as a bullpen savior, Bard said, “That’s one thing I told them right away. I’m totally willing to do this, talking to Bobby and Ben, it’s their decision how to use me. I’m OK with it. I told them, ‘Don’t expect me, I’m not going to make eight guys pitch better.’
“I can go down and do what I can. If that offers maybe some comfort to other guys and let’s them fall into their roles, then maybe it can help everybody. I think that’s the goal.’’
Bard has made two starts for the Sox, both losses. He was charged with five runs in five-plus innings in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto on April 10, then came back with a beauty on Patriots Day, a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay in which he walked Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria to force home the game’s only run in the seventh inning.
“Now I still view myself as a starter,’’ Bard said. “They said they do too. That’s where they said they want me in the long run. For now, they said they’re trying to address a need for a couple of days and keep me from going 10 days without throwing. I told them I was OK with it for now.’’
Asked whether he thought the team would be better served with him in the bullpen, which has already lost closer Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery) and setup man Mark Melancon (demoted to minors), Bard said, “It’s not for me to decide.
“I feel like I’ve done my job as a starter. They’re trying to address a need. Whether I can completely turn everything around there is to be determined. I’m just looking at it as today and tomorrow and see what happens.’’
Bard said he ruled out pitching in back-to-back games for “health reasons” and said the club was in total agreement.
Asked if he might be used in a save situation, Bard said, “It wasn’t talked about. [Valentine] said, ‘Be ready in the eighth inning.’ I’ll be ready. See what happens.’’