News that John Farrell is excited about Daniel Bard after watching the righthander throw in Mississippi over the weekend could indicate that there will be a lot of depth in the Red Sox bullpen.
Farrell emphasized that Bard is throwing with “power” again and that he’s back to his “normal” arm slot. If these positive things carry over to the pitching mound, the Red Sox could have one of the best bullpens in baseball.
As it stands, the Red Sox have Joel Hanrahan as their closer, with Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa in set-up roles, plus lefties Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, and Craig Breslow. In addition to Bard, the Sox have added veteran righty Koji Uehara while holding on to Alfredo Aceves. They also have
Clayton Mortensen for long relief and Alex Wilson, who spent last season in Pawtucket.
Out of this group, Miller, Tazawa, Aceves, and Mortensen are all potential starters, should there be injuries to the front five of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Dempster.
As some point, the Sox may also add lefty Rich Hill to the mix.
So there appears to be room to include a reliever in a deal if the Sox are looking to obtain a lefthanded-hitting first baseman/outfielder.
In Hanrahan, the Sox felt they got a “sure thing” at closer, and they hope Bailey can avoid injuries and regain his All-Star form. Uehara has been extremely effective, but his teams have had to be careful about pitching him in back-to-back games; the Sox shouldn’t have to worry about that with Tazawa in the mix.
On one of the coldest days in memory here, some Red Sox players left their warm homes in Arizona and Florida to tour Boston as part of a winter caravan in which they met Bostonians and New Englanders throughout the day.
Free agent pickups David Ross and Jonny Gomes as well as outfielders Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava took part in the tour, which included stops at the Copley Plaza, the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution, and Faneuil Hall.
Ross, signed as a free agent from the Braves, was with the Red Sox in 2008 as part of the playoff run that season. He will be the backup catcher but likely play more than a usual backup because of his defensive prowess and his newfound offense.
“I think we have some outstanding pitchers,” Ross said. “I know our team viewed Jon Lester as one of the best lefties in the game. There weren’t too many guys looking forward to facing him.”
Gomes, too, will have a platoon role, and his righthanded power bat could fit well at Fenway.
“I’m not sure anyone should really know what our roles are going to be at this point,” Gomes said. “I’ve been working out, ready to play 162.
“I think you make your playing time based on your production. I’m a team player, so if someone else has the hot hand, go with it. I’m here to win ballgames. That’s all that matters to me and I think we have an excellent team.”
Gomes and Nava worked out with Jacoby Ellsbury at Athletes Performance in Arizona this winter.
“I’ve been working with Jacoby the last six years,” Gomes said. “We’re all very excited about this season. We think we have a good team.”
Nava said he has not been approached by the team about playing first base. Nava, a switch hitter, said he last played first base in junior college but would welcome the opportunity.
The Boston Baseball Writers dinner will be Thursday night at 7 at the Westin Copley. The headliner is Terry Francona, who will receive the Judge Emil Fuchs Award for long and meritorious service to baseball. The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, co-author of “Terry Francona: the Red Sox Years,” will be honored with the Dave O’Hara Award for long and meritorious service to the Boston chapter of the BBWAA. Others being honored include Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Aviles, Nava, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Sox GM Ben Cherington and Farrell will also be on the dais . . . The Red Sox held private auditions for public-address announcers Wednesday night and will hold public auditions Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Fenway Park.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.