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Bard's struggles result in demotion to Triple-A

Bard's struggles result in demotion to Triple-A

Bard's struggles result in demotion to Triple-A
BOSTON -- Right-hander Daniel Bard told the Red Sox he could work out his mechanical troubles in the big leagues, that he didn't need a trip to the Minors. The team didn't want to take any chances.

Following a disastrous outing in a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, the Red Sox optioned the struggling right-hander Tuesday to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he'll remain a starter and try to iron out his mechanical flaws. Bard allowed Toronto just one hit, but he walked more batters (six) than he retired (five). He also hit a pair.

It's unknown who will take Bard's spot in Boston's rotation on Saturday, but Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to be the favorite. Dice-K was scheduled to pitch three innings in a rehab start for Pawtucket on Tuesday, which would put him in line, albeit on three days' rest.

"I think that what came out of the conversation today was that we'll stay with the idea that [Bard is] a starter and see how he develops," manager Bobby Valentine said. "There's a lot of building blocks, a lot of good things that have happened here that he can still build on. It seems like it's just around the corner."

Bard, a converted reliever, went 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA, 34 walks and 37 strikeouts in 55 innings and 11 appearances, 10 of them starts. His WHIP is 1.62.

As a reliever, Bard's velocity was in the mid- to high-90s, but there was never an expectation that would be the case when he joined the rotation. However, he hasn't been able to reach the best velocities he displayed coming out of the bullpen in even the tightest situations as a starter, an issue the Sox believe is tied to his mechanics.

Bard has acknowledged his struggles, and he said after Sunday's outing that he wasn't sure what the appropriate next step was.

"Daniel's a real talented guy," Valentine said. "He was real direct about the entire situation. He thought he could stay here and work it out. He felt that there will be a quick turnaround and there wasn't any real case made that we hadn't already made for him. We took the yin and the yang for a couple hours yesterday and today just tried to make the best decision."

Just what Bard's Minor League program will be has yet to be determined. Valentine thinks an information overload could easily be a contributing factor to all this, with too many voices in his ear. He still feels Bard should scrap the wind-up -- as he feels all pitchers should -- but just who will be overseeing Bard and what the fixes will be are not settled matters.

"We're still circling back to figure out what the program could be, should be, who he'll work with," Valentine said. "Again, we've talked about all the people that work with him, and obviously we want to simplify it. But simplifying it ... doesn't mean the right answers are going to be given to him if it's totally simplified. 'Hey, you only need to talk to the cab driver today, and no one else, and he'll tell you how to,' you know?"

Bard is the second pitcher who figured prominently into the Sox's plans this season whose required a demotion in the team's eyes. Reliever Mark Melancon went down in early April.

"I just hope that they reset," Valentine said. "Obviously people try to pull the examples out of the hat and say it didn't hurt Cliff Lee and it didn't hurt Roy Halladay and all that good stuff. ... Again, if we knew the exact fix then we'd sell a book on the street corner and wouldn't have to put on the costume and try to make a living. It's all individual and getting to that individual and finding what exactly works for that person is a wonderful challenge of our game."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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