5/17/2013 12:30 A.M. ET
Farrell expresses concern for struggling Bard
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- A perplexing slump that has lasted over a year for former elite Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard seemed to hit rock bottom on Wednesday night, when the right-hander walked five batters in an inning-plus for Double-A Portland.
The Red Sox hope that Bard can find his way back, but things have regressed of late. In Wednesday's game, Bard threw 30 pitches, just eight for strikes.
"Well, in his situation, and really in any pitcher's situation, given what's transpired not just in the last couple of outings, but over a period of time, there's some concern there," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Any time you go out and you're throwing 25 percent strikes, that's a tough way to go. I know this is something that Daniel's working through. He's fighting through. We're there to give him the best feedback that we can and encourage him along the way. He's going through a pretty tough stretch right now."
Bard's outing on May 11 was similarly tough to watch, as he walked four batters over two-thirds of an inning, throwing just eight of his 29 pitches for strikes in that outing.
After an inconsistent Spring Training, Bard was optioned by the Red Sox to Portland at the end of camp.
When a roster need arose, Bard came back to the Majors for two appearances, which took place April 25 and 27 against the Astros. The first one was a positive step, as Bard pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. But he took the mound again two days later and walked both batters he faced, throwing eight of his nine pitches for balls.
Bard was sent back to Portland after that second outing, and has struggled mightily in all five outings in his return to Double-A.
"I can't say that's because he made two appearances for us, that it's contributed to this [slide]," said Farrell. "You also point back to Spring Training where there was a stretch of probably four outings in a row where this was making very good strides. It was heading in the right direction, to the point where he had a legitimate shot to make this club.
"And yet you would think that would serve as a reference point and a positive one. And yet we're at the point where we're at now, where there's still got to be some rebuilding done here."
At this point, the plan is for Bard to keep pitching instead of going to extended spring camp or taking a break.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet," said Farrell. "Each outing is discussed internally, but it's more about continuing to address the needs of Daniel and trying to provide him that help as best we can. We haven't gotten to the point of any drastic measures one way or the other."
The Red Sox continue to work all avenues in trying to help Bard get his groove back. Double-A pitching coach Bob Kipper continues to work with Bard on mechanics, while team psychologist Bob Tewksbury helps on the mental side of the game.
Bard has been through this type of situation once before, when he was a Minor Leaguer in 2007. He bounced back that time.
"I'm sure he's as mystified as anyone he's going through this," said Farrell. "Again, that's something we've been working at for quite some time. To say that it's one thing and there would be a magic remedy for it, we would certainly give it to him. Yet it comes from repeating a delivery and what allows that to happen. That's being in a good place mentally and confident that you're going to execute a pitch in a given situation, and that's been elusive for him right now."
Bailey expected to rejoin 'pen Monday in Chicago
ST. PETERSBURG -- Look for Andrew Bailey to be back in the Boston bullpen on Monday night, when the Red Sox open a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox.
The closer threw a 15-pitch simulated game at Tropicana Field on Thursday. The final step before activation is a one-game Minor League stint for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday.
"I felt good. I threw all my pitches," Bailey said. "The next step is to pitch Saturday in Pawtucket and then be back. Everything feels good. It's a baseball thing, just getting acclimated again. Everything feels great."
The Red Sox bullpen looks much better with Bailey pitching the ninth inning, particularly when you consider Joel Hanrahan is out for the rest of the season.
"Watching him out there today, he threw the ball very well," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Not only in terms of power with his fastball, but action to his secondary stuff. He warmed up without any issue. He came out of it feeling well."
Was there any consideration to activating Bailey without a rehab stint?
"I mean when you see the ball come out of his hand, sure, you think about that," said Farrell. "But the fact is, he's 19 days from his last game. He's a guy that pitches with a lot of adrenaline in that role and I think the next progressive step will be in a game situation against a different uniform and all the other things that we can't produce in a sim game situation, so that's where Saturday takes him."
Bailey was sidelined with a strained right biceps. His last appearance for the Red Sox was on April 28.
Hanrahan has surgeries, including Tommy John
ST. PETERSBURG -- Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan underwent surgery on Thursday to repair his flexor tendon and also had Tommy John surgery.
Bone spurs were also removed.
The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Hanrahan won't pitch again in 2013 and could miss part of the '14 season.
He is a free agent at the end of this season. The right-hander had a frustrating first season with the Red Sox, posting a 9.82 ERA in nine games.
Victorino wrenches back, hopes to play Friday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Shane Victorino made another fine catch for the Red Sox on Thursday night, running into the wall in right to rob the Rays' Jose Lobaton of extra bases in the bottom of the eighth inning. But there was a price to be paid.
Victorino wrenched his lower back on the play and had to exit the game in the bottom of the ninth of a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Considering the Red Sox would spend the wee hours of the morning flying to Minneapolis, where they open a three-game series against the Twins on Friday night, Victorino's status for that game is probably iffy.
A couple of weeks ago, Victorino missed seven games with back tightness. Then there was a jarring collision with the right-field wall May 12, but somehow Victorino didn't miss any time after that play.
"I don't think it's going to be as bad. It doesn't feel that way," Victorino said. "At least I'm hoping that. There's only one to play. I try to play the game hard, make as many outs as you can. Sometimes in the process you aggravate things, but yeah, I feel OK. I've just got to keep plugging."
Victorino's defense in right field has been a big strength for the Red Sox this season.
"I don't think we can underestimate what it does for us," Boston manager John Farrell said of Victorino's defense. "He's cut some runners down; he's kept some people to singles where it could be sure doubles in other situations. He's done an outstanding job. His routes and reads are spot on."
Drew goes from slump to surge
ST. PETERSBURG -- It's hard to believe Stephen Drew's slump was such a big topic of conversation earlier in the season. These days, he is one of the most productive hitters the Red Sox have.
Fresh off his grand slam on Wednesday, Drew was elevated to the seventh spot in the batting order in Thursday's series finale. It was the third time Drew has batted seventh this season. He has started most games in the eighth or ninth spots.
"If it gets him another at-bat tonight, all the better," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's in a three-week run here where he's been swinging the bat well. It wasn't just the matter of the grand slam here [Wednesday] night. It's more a reflection of what's been taking place over time. He's had good at-bats against left-handed pitching, so if they bring in a lefty to turn Daniel [Nava] around and to face [Stephen], I feel like he's equipped to handle that."
Drew headed into Thursday's action leading all American League shortstops with a .609 slugging percentage during May.
And it isn't as if Drew is just an offensive weapon. He has also played strong defense at the vital position of shortstop.
Even if Drew isn't a highlight-reel defender like Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias, he still manages to get the job done.
"When they see him over a long period of time, they'll recognize how good he is, because he's in many ways a very dependable defender," said Farrell. "Sometimes that doesn't show as flashy, where it might catch the average fan's eye, but when you look up after a hard-hit ball and he's standing right there, he's ranging up the middle to his glove side, he's a very good defender. And he's got a very accurate throwing arm.
"The one play he can make very well is the ball he'll charge to his backhand side and throw the ball back across his body. He's a damn good player."