Cherington on Bard, rotation, 1B options

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington touched on a number of subjects besides rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Stephen Drew during his session with the media Thursday afternoon, including the status of reliever Daniel Bard on the eve of the season.

Bard is still in camp competing for a bullpen spot, but he has an option left, allowing the Sox to send him to Pawtucket without exposing him to waivers. Given the depths to which he plummeted last season, the Sox are likely inclined to have him start in Pawtucket and experience some success there. That would allow them to get some value out of Clayton Mortensen, who is out of options.

"Well, we think he's a lot further ahead than where he ended the season," Cherington said. "Probably still not all the way to where he wants to be, but in the range of possibilities he's a lot closer to where he wants to be than where he was struggling last year.

"I think the nice thing, from my standpoint, of his spring is we haven't talked much about it, it doesn't seem like. He has been able to get in his work and get ready for his season. There have been definitely a few outings where he looked pretty close, and I think he's feeling gradually better about himself."

* Daniel Nava's spot on the rotation as a backup outfielder-first baseman seems assured, judging by Cherington's comments.

"He's done a good job," Cherington said. "He's had good at-bats, he's done well defensively. He seems more and more comfortable at first base, not that that would be a primary part of his role, but he has the ability to go there if needed."

* Cherington acknowledged that the fact Lyle Overbay is not on the roster and Mike Carp is could factor into which player is kept as a left-handed hitting first-base alternative to Mike Napoli. Overbay is one of three players -- the others being Mitch Maier and Ryan Sweeney -- who have opt-out options in their contract that come into play next week. It was reported here incorrectly Thursday morning that Drew Sutton also had an opt-out.

* Cherington's assessment of the way the starting rotation has performed this spring:

"They'd all tell you it's spring training, but a lot of encouraging things. There's clearly a purpose to the work. They're going out, taking certain things into the game, whether it be pace, aggressiveness within the strike zone, attention to detail -- for the most part, they've been paying attention to the running game. We saw [the work] early in camp and now they're taking it into games. The pitching overall has been pretty encouraging."

* On whether the team needed to add depth to the rotation:

"I guess you can't be deep enough. Our job is to look out for reinforcements, but we feel pretty good about some of options we have, in addition to the five guys [in the rotation]. [Alfredo Aceves] has been stretched out, he gives us another guy. The guys projected to start at Pawtucket, we feel better than we did last year at this time about our options.

"[Chris] Hernandez, [Terry] Doyle, [Allen] Webster... [Rubby] De La Rosa, we'll give some time to get his pitch count built up. There are a lot of guys coming after them. We feel hopefully we're a little further ahead than we have been."

* On Drake Britton, the Red Sox pitcher whose first big league camp was curtailed after he was arrested on multiple DUI charges and is now awaiting an April court date:

"I've had a number of conversations with Drake and gone over some things I'm not going to comment on. At this time we don't have reason to believe he's going to miss time. There's obviously a legal progression that needs to be worked out; we'll let that work itself out."

Britton could face up to a year's jail time on the most serious charge, a DUI with property damage.

"There's a protocol I'd rather not get into," Cherington said when asked if the team has a set protocol for dealing with situations in which a player faces criminal charges. "For a player on the 40-man [roster], it's a little different than a nonroster player. It's not all a discipline process the player goes through."

Presumably, Cherington was referring to counseling, though he would not elaborate.

"I just think it's better to let that process play out behind closed doors," he said, " but I will tell you this is something we take very seriously. Part of what it gets to is a matter of reliability. Part of being a major leaguer with the Red Sox is being reliable, being someone we feel we can trust day in and day out to perform and be ready. Certainly, on the field is part of it, but the other stuff is part of it, too.

"He's shown a great deal of remorse and understands the gravity of what happened and is going through the steps to learn from it."