Bard is attempting a move from the bullpen, where he has spent his major league career thus far. His spring did not go well, though, with the exception of his last start. He had a 6.57 ERA and led the team in walks (16 in 24.2 innings).
The Red Sox pretty much promised Bard a starting role in the offseason, but the messages from Valentine this March were mixed at best. He was non-committal, openly criticized his performances and pitch selection and even pitched him in relief outings. With none of those distractions, Bard might perform better in his new role when it actually counts.
Doubront started three games for Boston in 2010 but none last year as injury curtailed his season at just 10.1 innings. In the spring, though, he has been excellent, allowing just five runs in 16.2.
Alfredo Aceves was one of the candidates who missed out on the rotation. Aceves wanted to be a starter, and while his numbers last season were far worse in the rotation than in the bullpen, he had a pretty good case for his inclusion in the rotation to begin the 2012 season. There may be more at play here, though, than him simply losing out to Bard and Doubront.
At the same time as his announcement about the No. 4 and 5 starters, Bobby V alluded to the possibility that the 25th roster spot might go to a pitcher.
This goes against something Valentine has said previously, as he has maintained that the final roster place would go to a position player. However, he is now suggesting that there might be an injury in the bullpen but would go no further than that.
If a reliever is indeed battling an injury, the obvious question is who? One possibility is closer Andrew Bailey. In recent years, Bailey has sometimes struggled to remain healthy. He has not pitched since March 25 and did not appear as scheduled in Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bobby V has also mentioned that he would be okay with Aceves closing games for this team, which would make little sense if Bailey were totally healthy.
If that is the case, moving Aceves to the back of the pen would be a rather bold move, as his value is in long relief. As a reliever last year, he was 9-1 with a 2.03 ERA.
For right now, though, the Sox made the right call with Doubront and Bard. The former had a brilliant spring, and the latter has the best upside and might even have the best raw stuff in the rotation.
Adam MacDonald has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. He also writes about cricket a fair bit. He likes video games and sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.
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