Daniel Bard Continues to Prove He Belongs in Red Sox Starting Rotation

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Apr 28, 2012

Daniel Bard Continues to Prove He Belongs in Red Sox Starting Rotation Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

It was but days ago that the Fenway faithful were beginning to panic about pitching. Relinquish a nine-run lead en route to a 15-9 shellacking by the rival Yankees, and every man, woman and child in Red Sox nation was calling for Daniel Bard to solve the team's bullpen problems.

Not so fast.

Sure, Bard may have had a tough go of it in his first start of the season, allowing five runs over five innings is no way to make an entrance. But three appearances and nearly a month later, Bard appears to be settling into his starting role quite nicely.

Bard took the hill on Friday, just four days after tossing 2/3 of an inning in relief to help lock down the Red Sox 6-5 victory in Minnesota.The impressive outing had fans and critics alike calling for Bard's return to the pen, and using the short sample size as reinforcement for the notion. Bard wasn't buying in.

The 26-year-old took the hill on Friday in search of his first win as a starter and to prove his worth in the rotation. Seven innings, six strike outs, two earned runs and a lone walk later, and suddenly Bard's case for remaining in the rotation is as strong as ever.

Manager Bobby valentine offered up his own vote of confidence in Bard after Friday's 10-3 win in Chicago.

"All those things that could have affected him mentally, and they didn't," Valentine said of Bard. "He looked great out there."

Aaron Cook seemed to be the easiest means by which to transition Bard back into a relief role. Cook's May 1 opt-out deadline is fast approaching, and the Red Sox could certainly use an extra arm to help fill out their pitching staff.

Having worked late relief over the past two seasons, and quite successfully I might add, Bard appeared to be the logical choice once Cook was recalled. Even though Boston desperately needs someone like Cook to help bolster their pitching staff — and hopefully he will, Bard is continuing to prove he's not going to be the guy destined for the bullpen.

The Red Sox have made a big statement on their current road trip, taking each of the first five games. But it's Bard who has been the biggest winner of all.

Bard may have the experience as a reliever and even appear to be the logical choice to take back that role, but he belongs in the rotation.

Boston could definitely benefit from another strong arm solidifying their relief staff, but that's not Bard's job anymore. Nor should it be. If the Red Sox want to get the most value out of their 26-year-old flame-thrower then they need to give him a fair shake and let him develop as a starter.

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