Erik Bedard Overcomes Early Issues, Takes Positive Step Forward in Second Start With Red Sox

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Erik Bedard Overcomes Early Issues, Takes Positive Step Forward in Second Start With Red Sox The company line since the Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard was one of patience.

The club would have to bide its time with the lefty, who was just one start removed from the disabled list when he came to Boston. Since there was no rehab involved for Bedard, he would be regaining his arm strength and shaking off the rust while pitching in important games.

If Bedard's start Tuesday night in Minnesota is any indication, that patience will be rewarded.

After about as rocky a first inning as you will find, Bedard settled down very nicely in his second outing with Boston, throwing five solid frames in the undercard of a 4-3 win over the Twins.

Bedard was actually in line to pick up his first victory with the Red Sox before Matt Albers lost a lead in the sixth. That's a non-issue given the fact that Boston still won the game, and Bedard still found time to shine.

Bedard retired the last seven men he faced, and 12 of the last 14. He struck out six and yielded only three hits. The blemish on an otherwise solid line was four walks, all issued in the first inning and all under questionable circumstances — home plate umpire Tim McClelland's strike zone was about the size of a dinner plate.

Since Bedard is in a situation where he needs to overcome — a knee injury, a change in city, a massive alteration in media and fan attention — seeing him not let McClelland or his own command issues (whatever was the primary cause) get to him was notable.

"He continued to try and make good pitches throughout the whole thing and didn't give in," said catcher Jason Varitek. "Tim always has a smaller strike zone and he stays with it. We just couldn't get one of those borderline ones to go our way early.

"He continued to make pitches and actually got better as the game went on."

For his part, Bedard never offered up any beef with McClelland, not even a second glance, and was perfectly accountable for the four free passes.

"Just a lack of control in the first," Bedard said. "I just tried to battle and tried to limit the damage."

And he did a great job of that.

The first inning began with a walk to Ben Revere. Joe Mauer singled Revere to third and Michael Cuddyer lifted a sacrifice fly to center to start the scoring. Then came walk No. 2 and walk No. 3, both of which saw several borderline pitches go against Bedard and the Red Sox.

After a strikeout of Danny Valencia, Bedard issued his fourth free pass to free-swinger Delmon Young on a 3-2 fastball that appeared to be in there.

"It was right where he wanted to throw it," said manager Terry Francona. Instead, it forced in the second run and prompted a visit from pitching coach Curt Young.

That's where the bleeding would end, and the return to normalcy began.

"The good thing was he gave up his runs and then he came back and for the next four innings, got in a rhythm, didn't have long innings," Francona said of Bedard, who needed just 53 pitches to get through the last four frames. "Just that first inning kind of ate up his pitch count."

That pitch count has been monitored so far, but Bedard is getting close to the point where he can approach or even hit triple digits. Until he gets there, and maybe even beyond that point, the Red Sox will have patience with him. After what he showed in overcoming some early issues Tuesday night, that won't be very difficult.

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