While no one player in any sport likes to be told that they are not worthy of playing for a big league club, Daniel Bard's comments after his demotion to Pawtucket makes him come across as smug and self-entitled.
These comments are an example of the same character traits that became so apparent last September as the entire Boston Red Sox team imploded and missed the playoffs.
Bard told reporters after his demotion:
“It’s not my decision. I’m just an employee here. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with it. If it was me making the decision it might have been different. But I tried to be respectful about it. Once I get the anger and disappointment out of the way, you just have to try to make the best out of the situation.” (via ESPNBoston)
Bard has to be careful here.
The fan base is still pretty upset with the end of last season. Between the on-field collapse, the way Terry Francona's departure was handled and the pieces in the media about chicken and beer in the clubhouse along with the Boston Globe's expose on Francona's last year as manager, an underachieving Bard complaining about being "just an employee here" will not win him any new fans.
The big knock on last year's team was the perceived lack of leadership. When Andrew Bailey went down with a thumb injury in spring training, Bard could have scored a lot of points with the fans and his teammates by volunteering to go back to the bullpen and close.
He chose to remain a part of the rotation, and that was what the new brain trust expected.
When injuries forced Bobby Valentine to ask Bard to miss a start and go to the pen early in the season, he did it, but not without protest. Valentine used him once before putting him back in the rotation.
While a 5-6 record and a 5.24 ERA are not the worst numbers to have as a back-end starter, the 37 to 34 walk to strikeout ratio is just awful. His last start in Toronto saw him get knocked out of the second inning after hitting two batters and walking six.
Boston, despite everything, still can pull out a playoff spot this year. They are only three games out of first and are bound to get healthy again sooner or later. They will need Bard to succeed if they are to win.
At 27 years old, he is no longer a prospect, but not quite a veteran. The Red Sox's brass made the right call by sending him down. Whether it is a matter of confidence, some issue with mechanics, or most likely, a combination of both, Bard should have just said nothing and went.
Instead, while not saying anything too horrible, he ran his mouth, giving new life to all of the frustrations from last fall.
He is old enough to know better. Hopefully, when he does return, he will realize that and keep his frustrations in-house.