ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Even as the Red Sox celebrated their 9-2 victory on Wednesday night, there was a disconcerting development elsewhere in the organization. Daniel Bard had a dreadful outing in Double-A Portland, walking five batters and throwing just eight of 30 pitches for strikes, the latest episode in what has become a progressively worse struggle to find the strike zone.
Bard threw strikes on just 27 percent of his pitches on Wednesday, his worst percentage of any outing in the last two years. In five appearances since returning to Double-A after a brief promotion to the big leagues, Bard has now thrown strikes on just 34 percent of his pitches. He’s walked 13 in 3 2/3 innings.
Word of the most recent derailment took little time to reach Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves.
“I’m concerned over, of course, how he’s doing mentally,” said Nieves. “You’re always concerned about a guy’s mental state when he’s engaged in an at-bat and doesn’t do well. It continues to be the same thing.”
That Bard has seen his performance take such a frightful turn in such a short period of time is somewhat stunning. When he was called up to the big leagues at the end of April, team officials thought there was a chance that he could pitch his way back into a regular role in the bullpen. Now, it would be difficult to imagine Bard seeming more distant from a return to the big leagues.
But Nieves suggested that the idea that Bard’s performance has not been on a steady upward trajectory is not unexpected, given his struggles of a year ago.
“It was never going to be a quick fix with him, because of the residue of everything that has happened through a whole year of battle. It’s going to take some time,” he said. “I think the strength is there, the arm strength is there, it’s a matter of him buying into it and creating some consistency. You know what it comes down to? Him not thinking about hitters or anything like that, just hit the glove, hit the glove, hit the glove. Let the stuff play. His stuff is too unbelievable to be turned off, or to be aware of, oh my God I’m going to get hit, except he’s not getting hit, because he’s walking guys.”
The Sox had remained committed to keeping Bard on a regular schedule in Portland. His outing on Wednesday came with three days off. Alterations to his plan in the minors — whether to the venue where he’s pitching or the way the team approaches his scheduled outings or … something now seems inevitable.
“We’ll have to look into the next step and we’ll have another plan for him,” said the Sox pitching coach. “Staying the course, but we might add some things. We’ll get together and talk about it and I’m sure there’s going to be a conference call. We’ll talk about it.”
One thing that Nieves made clear is that he did not see value in having Bard shut down for a stretch of time. That, the pitching coach believed, would be counterproductive in the effort to get the pitcher back on track in his career.
“Backing off, I never want to back off a guy. He’s not that type of guy,” said Nieves. “He’s the kind of guy, throw your stuff over the plate and it will play.”
Greg and Chris talk with Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston in hour 2 of NFL Sunday to discuss a variety of offseason happenings with the Pats and throughout the league. Greg and Chris also get into the NFL Draft and where Mariota and Winston will go.
Mike Reiss calls the guys to talk about the offseason news for the Pats. He talks about the Pats/Jets tampoering fiasco, free agency, where he sees Ridley and Connolly ending up, if the Patriots would be interested in Reggie Wayne and more.
In the first hour of the show, Greg and Chris discuss the news coming out of the owners' meetings this week and rule changes. Belichick's blow-up over the league not wanting to spend on endzone cameras was well documented and the guys react. They also talk about the Jets ridiculous tampering charges, free agents still lingering out there, where Stevan Ridley will land and the RB position in New England. Dickerson and Price briefly discuss the adventures of Tom Brady before being joined by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia to talk all things Pats in the offseason.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Joe and Alex talked with the Sox AGM about the state of the team as Opening Day approaches.
Mut, Tomase, and Bradford kick things off talking about Shane Victorino taking offense to people reading into some comments he made about trading for Cole Hamels. They also discuss Blake Swihart and how soon he could be up if Christian Vazquez starts the season on the DL.
Joe Kelly joined the Hot Stove show where he talked about being ready for his next spring training start after a biceps ailment forced him out of his last outing, he talks about his NCAA brackets and how teammate Wade Miley has a perfect bracket still.
Peter Chiarelli joined the Sunday Skate crew to talk about the Bruins playoff push heading into the final handful of games of the regular season. Chiarelli talked about avoiding some of the overly negative feedback he gets while realizing that the team does have real issues. He discusses what went down at the trade deadline and if he was happy with the outcome, Lucic having a down year and underperforming, the salary cap and if he considers it as big of an issue as it's been made out to be and what the future holds for the team.
It's a big hour #2 for the Sunday Skate dudes - they talk about the B's defenseman and what the future looks like at that position, with both moves the team can make and younger guys in the AHL. They also get into the Bruins philosophy on bringing guys up and sending them back down and how players deal with that. Finally, the boys are joined by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss EVERYTHING.
The Sunday Skate crew gets the show going discussing the Bruins big, impressive victory over the NY Rangers yesterday. What can you take from that game? According to LB - Lyndon Byers - who called the guys from the road, not a lot. LB drops a dime on what was going on with the Rangers yesterday. DJ and Joe discuss Claude's lines and groupings and the importance of Ryan Spooner. They also get into Lucic, his contributions this year and if he can turn things around.
The latest feud between Shank and Papi was discussed.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.
John Farrell has named Clay Buchholz the starter for Tuesday's opener. Koji and Christian Vasquez are already ruled out. Vasquez on the 60 day DL.
Wrestlemania was a trial run for Super Bowl 50. More Christian dog stuff. Superintendent in Chief William Gross of the BPD deals with some idiotic protesters after the fatal shooting in Roxbury on Friday night.
Shawn Thornton is now a member of the Panthers, who come to town tomorrow night. Thornton spoke about Claude Julien's control of the Bruins locker room, and his own team playing his former team on Tuesday night.
As the testimony of Hernandez' fiancee wrapped up today, we checked in with attorney Michael McCann for all the latest developments and analysis.
We wrap up the day with the best in sound that you may have missed throughout the day.
We listen in on Adam Shefter's deflategate report on NFL Live on ESPN, and discuss when we can expect this whole mess to come to a head.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots
Mikey, Mut, and Lucy are talking about all things New England sports, the Red Sox spring training, more Darrelle Revis and Jets talk, and some Bruins mixed in.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Kirk's massage and crap all over Sausage.
Ben and Adam finish the odyssey that is the history of Wrestlemania. Wrestlemanias 21-30 are discussed and analyzed.
Mike Mulloy joins Chris in the studio to talk Raw and Wrestlemania.
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show