BOSTON -- The Red Sox on Wednesday made it official, promoting reliever Daniel Bard from Double-A Portland. Manager John Farrell made it clear that the Sox are hopeful this is more than just a temporary fix, that he will become a permanent part of the bullpen.
"He’s here to do just that, perform and be a regular in our bullpen," Farrell said before Wednesday afternoon’s game with the Oakland Athletics.
Bard was unscored upon in his last five outings (six innings) for the Sea Dogs, maintaining an average speed in the 93 to 96 m.p.h. range and throwing strikes (8 of 10 pitches he threw Tuesday night were strikes).
"The last three outings, he’s been much more consistent," Farrell said. "We’ve made the comment and took the stance in spring training that this was about repeating his delivery. It wasn’t so much on the end result, but the results have been there, along with the consistent arm slot and the delivery. With our need to add to the bullpen, he’s back here."
While there is more work to be done, Farrell said, Bard has progressed to the point where no major rehaul is required.
“I think it’s a matter of maintenance, not wholesale adjustments by any means," Farrell said. “It’s a matter of repeating a delivery that’s natural to him, and when he does he’s been successful."
Farrell said the plan is to use Bard in early relief situations.
“I feel like with Taz [Junichi Tazawa], Koji [Uehara} and Andrew [Bailey], that’s the back end of our bullpen right now," he said, “so right now it’s a matter of him getting back acclimated to this level and building some confidence along the way."
There has not been a jump in Bard’s velocity since spring training. The Sox have not see the Bard who threw in the upper 90s as recently as 2011.
“That doesn’t mean he has to get to that level to be successful," Farrell said. “It’s been in the 93-to-96 range. I think a lot of guys would sign up to throw that hard.
“If you look back to Daniel’s time in Boston before starting, when he was in this velocity range there wasn’t a lot of swing-and-miss then, either. It was in the upper end of the 90 range where a lot of the swing-and-miss came in, where guys had to cheat to get to that velocity and the breaking ball became that much more effective.
“I think we’re looking for a delivery that’s got a reworking to it to add deception. Regardless, we’ve seen it with Joel Hanrahan, too. Location is still the No. 1 element for anyone."
Bard takes the place of Steven Wright on the Sox roster. Wright was optioned back to Pawtucket after making his big-league debut Tuesday night, allowing five runs in Boston’s 13-0 loss to Oakland.