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Bard looks better this time

But starting role isn't locked in yet

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / March 21, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Daniel Bard may have done well in his fourth start of spring training Tuesday night, but his fate is not yet sealed as a member of the rotation.

Before the Red Sox’ 9-2 loss to the Blue Jays, Bobby Valentine would not to commit to Bard being a starter.

Valentine was still not convinced after Bard’s outing.

When asked if he were any closer to deciding on Bard, he said, “No. I don’t want it to sound like I don’t have any idea. It’s another five innings and on a normal day with our offense, it’s not giving us that bad of a chance. When he left the game we were still in it, totally. I like the fact he was able to make the adjustment. The windup wasn’t as crisp as the stretch, even though they got hits out of the stretch. We’ll see.’’

Valentine wasn’t happy with the seven walks in Bard’s last two outings.

“Real hard for me to figure,’’ he said. “Even with his good stuff, I couldn’t handle the walks.’’

Valentine wasn’t happy that Bard used his changeup only once and feels the lack of that pitch could be contributing to negative counts.

“This isn’t an exact science,’’ he said. “I can’t proclaim to think I have the exact answer or right answer in this short sampling. We’ll figure it out.’’

Bard was touched up for seven runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Cardinals March 15. But he was much better Tuesday night, save for a bad second inning when he allowed three runs. He retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced, including the last eight.

“I don’t expect to be handed anything,’’ said Bard, who threw 83 pitches in five innings. “After my previous outing, I wouldn’t expect him to hand me a job. He wouldn’t be doing his job if that were the case, when you’ve got other guys throwing the ball well.

“I think today was a good building block and I showed them I can get through five innings in a reasonable amount of pitches. If this is a normal game, I go two more innings and we’re talking about a pretty good outing. I think it was important for me to get through five innings.

“I haven’t talked to Bobby in the past week. He came up to me before my last outing and he asked, ‘Are you all-in for this? Are you committed?’

“I said, ‘Yeah, until you guys tell me something different, I’m a starter in my own mind.’ Not saying that won’t ever change, but that’s the way I have to think.

“Getting through five innings and 80 pitches, that gives me a lot of confidence that my arm and body can handle this,’’ he said. “I think it tells our coaching staff it’s one less thing they have to worry about.’’

Bard said he threw only the one changeup, but a few two-seam sinkers and sliders.

Valentine probably didn’t like what he saw from setup man Mark Melancon Monday when the righty allowed three runs and three hits in one inning vs. the Twins. Closer Andrew Bailey has been a bit behind because of a lat strain.

And while Valentine considers Vicente Padilla one of the mild surprises of camp, he also revealed that the veteran righthander is nursing a right hamstring injury he suffered in the weight room.

There was certainly a chance that Padilla was going to make the team, perhaps taking Alfredo Aceves’s role as a multipurpose reliever/spot starter.

Asked whether Andrew Miller would have trouble making the team since he’s missed time with elbow discomfort and now a left hamstring strain suffered in the sixth inning on the first pitch, Valentine paused, and said, “For a starting job, yes.’’

Melancon OK

Melancon hit the proverbial “bump in the road,’’ but he believes better times are ahead.

“I was working on different stuff, mostly the changeup,’’ he said. “My curveball is going to come. Not quite there yet. The consistency of everything is not there as a whole, as I want it to be. I’m not necessarily worried about it.’’

Melancon said his secondary pitches are always a little behind because “they’re more of a feel pitch.’’

Parnell dead

Former Sox lefthander Mel Parnell died Tuesday after battling cancer, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Parnell, 89, pitched for Boston from 1947-56. He had a 123-75 record with a 3.50 ERA in 289 games (232 starts). Obituary, B14 . . . There is some concern about finding a lefthander for the bullpen. Right now it appears the best one is Rich Hill, but he won’t be ready until mid-May at the earliest. Franklin Morales has been a little bit behind after a health scare. Jesse Carlson, Justin Thomas, and Miller have not really stood out . . . Michael Bowden pitched an inning, giving up a run on three hits. He is out of options, although the Sox would like to protect the longtime farmhand . . . Ex-Sox manager Joe Morgan was on hand . . . Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the team before the game. Valentine has known Belichick for years from their New York years . . . Ryan Sweeney was back in the lineup in right field after nursing a quad injury for about a week.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at

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