Erik Bedard Excited for Chance to Pitch In His Favorite Ballpark, Ready for ‘Great Opportunity’

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BOSTON — Erik Bedard entered the media interview room at Fenway Park, a flight above the clubhouse, opening the doors to see a packed room waiting for him. He smiled.

The smile could've meant anything. One thing's for sure, Bedard, who has only once been on a winning team, is in an entirely new situation here in Boston.

"This is a great opportunity," said the newest Red Sox, who went 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 16 starts with Seattle before his trade Sunday afternoon. "You go from last place to first place in a heartbeat."

By leaving Seattle and joining Boston, Bedard went from one team with 46 wins to one with 66. For the first time in his eight-year career, he has a reasonable expectation of making the playoffs. Still, not everything is foreign to the lefty. He did pitch for five seasons in Baltimore, getting plenty familiar with Fenway Park.

Although he has a 6.99 ERA in six starts at the old ballpark, it managed to grow on him over the years.

"Well, it's my favorite park in the big leagues," he said. "The atmosphere, the fans, it feels so close. Just a nice park."

That may not be the kind of a statement many would expect from a guy with a reputataion as an extremely private person. But it goes hand in hand with what the rest of the Red Sox see in Bedard.

"Contrary to popular [opinion], he wants to be here," manager Terry Francona said. "There's a lot to like about how he pitches."

As for how he pitches, Bedard is fully aware it will take him a couple of starts to build back up his arm strength. He threw 57 pitches in his return from the disabled list Friday and will be held to about 75 or 80 when he makes his Red Sox debut Thursday against Cleveland. The start after that may see him hit the century mark, as long as he is effective.

"He might not be at peak efficiency yet. Fans and media might not be patient with him, we will," Francona said.

There are no lingering effects of a left knee sprain that knocked him out of action for a month, Bedard said. It's just a matter of getting that strength back up. Other than that, despite the massive career shift, it's business as usual.

"When you?re on the mound you just do what you can," he said. "Adjustments? I don't think you have to change what you do day in day out, just go out there and do the same thing and try to help the team win."

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