Prior to taking the field against the Twins on Sunday, Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine announced that Bard would join the team’s rotation as the fifth starter and would start the second game against Toronto.
Despite the fact that Bard yielded 18 runs and 16 walks through 24 2/3 innings, Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington remained committed to converting the reliever into a starter. And the 26-year-old appreciates the gesture.
"I'm honored that they stuck by me," Bard said. "Ben said it in our first meeting this spring, he goes, 'We want this to work and we’re not stupid, we know there’s going to be some ups-and-downs, maybe even in spring training.' That's kind of what happened, but I think the biggest thing they saw is that I got a little bit better with each outing. I got more comfortable."
Valentine approached Bard as the team stretched to inform him of the verdict after calling Felix Doubront into his office. The Red Sox manager showered Bard with praise for his development in Fort Myers.
“Daniel Bard came in and progressed exactly the way we’d hope he would progress,” Valentine said. “We just felt that at this time, it was the right thing to do.”
Bard recognized that fellow competitors Alfredo Aceves and Aaron Cook posted better numbers in the spring. But he believes the pitfalls from the spring could prepare him mentally for the challenges ahead.
"I think it was good that I had a couple of struggles and gave up some runs early in games," Bard said. "That's really good practice for me for what’s going to happen during the season. I'll take the rough ERA now and the learning experiences to make it count when the games start to count."
In all likelihood, the right-hander will stay behind when the team travels to Washington –– for an exhibition –– to throw one more outing against minor leaguers.