Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an appearance on “MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM” with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern, said that his team would not reconsider its decision to commit to Daniel Bard in the rotation. While he did leave open the possibility of reconsidering the pitcher's role down the road, Cherington said that the team's 0-3 start, which included two games in which the combination of Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon contributed directly to the losses, would not prompt the Sox to reconsider the best usage of Bard before he makes his first start.
"Right now, he’s starting [Tuesday] for us. We made a decision this winter collectively to give him a chance to get stretched out in spring training and show us what he can do. We feel like he showed enough in spring training, enough development, to carry that into the season," said Cherington. "If he can do that and do it well, and we believe he can, then there’s a great long-term benefit to the organization. ... It’s way too early in the season to talk about changing roles or reacting off a three-game series. Ultimately, of course if things are not working deeper as we get deeper into the season, we’ll consider changes, whether that involves a pitcher inside the organization, outside the organization, different roles, etc., but for right now, Daniel’s going to start tomorrow. We’ll see how this goes, and again, we feel like there's enough talent down there to get the job done."
Asked if Bard was the best closer on the roster, regardless of his current role, Cherington suggested that it was impossible to make a definitive claim on that subject.
"Your guess is as good as mine. He's done it less at the major league level than [Alfred] Aceves and [Mark] Melancon, so I don't know the answer to that," said Cherington. "I do know that right now, he's starting tomorrow and we're committed to that and he's committed to that. ... If decisions need to be made on changing roles, moving guys in or out [of the bullpen], bringing news guys in, that needs to come a little bit later."
As for the bullpen, which has allowed 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings (7.94 ERA), tied for second-to-last in the majors, Cherington suggested that he remains comfortable with the personnel whom the Sox have for now.
"I think we have plenty of talented options in the bullpen that [manager Bobby Valentine] can use. I thought Bobby did a really good job, giving us a chance to win this weekend and making a lot of good decisions in-game, both on the offensive side of the ball and on the pitching front," said Cherington. "Ultimately, the guys just need to execute a little bit better. Bobby and I talked every day, including this morning, about it. There’s plenty of talent down there. We just need to execute a little bit better, maybe get a little dose of luck and those things can combine and snowball into a run of success.
"I think it’s way too early to start talking about changes and whether we have the right guys or not. There’s that old adage that you take the first couple months of the season to figure out what you are, then the next two months to fix it and the last two months watching. That’s probably too simple, especially in a place like Boston, but I think we’ve got to give these guys a little bit more time."
Cherington also cited the possibility of reinforcements from the disabled list in the form of Andrew Miller and Rich Hill in suggesting the team's comfort with its bullpen.
Other topics that Cherington addressed during the interview included:
On the 0-3 start: "We knew there would be attention on the team, attention on how we start. It's three games. i don't really even feel like we've started yet. We've played three games. It was good to see how much we fought yesterday. Guys grinded at-bats, played hard."
On the team's interest in free-agent Roy Oswalt: Cherington said that the Sox will remain in touch with the right-hander, but that he's not an immediate-term consideration. "I know he's talked to several teams. I think Roy felt like now is not the time for him to start pitching," said Cherington. "We'll keep in touch with him, but it's not something that's on the front-burner. We certainly respect the fact that he has earned the right, through what he's done in his career, to be selective in not just who he pitches for but when he pitches. He's exercising that right. We respect that. We'll keep in touch, but right now, we're really focused on the guys we have."
On his relationship with Bobby Valentine: Cherington said that he was impressed with the in-game decision-making of his manager during the first series of the season. More broadly, Cherington said that he's enjoying the give-and-take of the relationship. "Our personalities are different. I think we went into this hoping we would complement each other well. I think we are," said Cherington. "I've learned a lot from him. Hopefully he's learned some things from me. When it comes to decisions, whether it's roster decisions or whatever, and we'll have plenty of them as we go through the season, that complement will result in a good outcome.
"I want him to push me. I want him to challenge my assumptions. He's been very, very open-minded about ideas I might have, whatever they may be. If we can push back on each other and be respectful in doing it, and whatever the decision is, leave the office, leave the door behind, go out and do our jobs, that's the kind of productive relationship that I want, and I think that's the relationship Bobby wants. I don't want someone who is going to agree with me all the time. I don't think that's what he wants, either. It's been really good so far. I've really enjoyed it."
On Carl Crawford: Cherington said that Crawford is "doing well" and nearing game activity in extended spring training in Fort Myers. The GM said that Crawford has had no further setbacks since his "little minor hiccup" with his wrist in the early stages of spring training. Cherington feels that the left-fielder, who is entering the second year of his seven-year, $142 million deal, is using his injured time to positive effect.
"Though he's not having at-bats yet, lot of work in the cage, video, etc., to get that feeling back in the batter's box that he's had when he's been at his best in Tampa and in previous seasons," said Cherington. "I don't have any reason to think he's not going to be a really good player in time, once he's back and fully comfortable, gets his legs underneath him. We certainly expect that we're going to have a very, very productive left-fielder and a guy who's closer to the Tampa Bay version than the one we saw last year."
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