John Farrell Has Already Identified Jon Lester, Daniel Bard’s Issues With Hopes to Bring Them Back to Form

John Farrell Has Already Identified Jon Lester, Daniel Bard's Issues With Hopes to Bring Them Back to FormBOSTON –
Without a doubt, pitching was the Red Sox' weakness in 2012.

The team's
pitching staff finished with a 4.70 ERA, the third-worst in the American League
last season. Boston's leftover horses — Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz
finished short of expectations with a 4.82 ERA and 4.56 ERA, respectively.

Under John
Farrell
's watch from 2007 to 2010, the pair evolved into All-Star pitchers. Although the new Red Sox manager won't deem himself the savior of the rotation,
he's already identified a few of Lester's miscues.

"From a pitching standpoint
there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked
about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into,"
Farrell said. "That might have affected his overall consistency.

"Setting aside Jon's
mention, setting aside Clay's name, we all recognize how important pitching is and
particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the
postseason, and let's face it, that's how we're going to be measured, not if we
get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And
it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a
priority."

Farrell's return is also
expected to help Daniel Bard rediscover his mechanics. In 2009 and 2010, Bard
developed into one of baseball's elite set-up men, totaling 139 strikeouts
while averaging a 2.79 ERA.

When the Red Sox attempted
to convert Bard into a starting pitcher in spring training, he unraveled. Game
by game, he lost his command and velocity en route to being demoted to Pawtucket
for the majority of the season.

In 17 games in the majors,
Bard compiled a 5-6 record with a 6.22 ERA, 43 walks and eight hit batters in 2012. The issues lingered in 31 games in Triple-A, when Bard tallied a 7.03
ERA with 29 walks and 10 hit batsmen.

It turns out, Farrell already
has suggestions for Bard.

"We've exchanged a couple of
text messages and voice mails," Farrell said. "Before getting a
chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn't begin to say what the steps to
adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn't too long ago that
this might have been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He's not
injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that
performance ability."

That's why Farrell was such an
intriguing candidate to Red Sox president Larry Lucchino.

"His
history is focused on pitching," Lucchino said. "Obviously one of the
malfunctioning parts of our organization."

But Farrell insists that he
won't spearhead the pitching. While he intends to be involved, the Red Sox' manager
said Boston's next pitching coach –– the fifth since 2010 –– would be the premier
voice.

"There's demands during the day that are going to
keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side
day," Farrell said. "Certainly my conversations with the pitching
coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my
background. That's what happened in Toronto.

"It will be no different
than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or
positional coach there."

But the hope is that Farrell's
presence will propel Lester, Buchholz and Bard back to being elite.

Have a question for
Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais
or send it here. He will pick a few
questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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