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Red Sox Notebook

Bard is ready to get started

He’s trying to set himself up for a spot in rotation

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 14, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Pitchers and catchers do not have to report until Sunday. But manager Bobby Valentine and many of his coaches were at JetBlue Park yesterday watching a well-attended informal workout.

Valentine was particularly interested in his pitchers and kept a close eye on righthander Daniel Bard.

Bard is the centerpiece of the team’s plan to improve its rotation this season. The 26-year-old spent the first three years of his career in the bullpen, establishing himself as one of the game’s better setup men. Now he will try to become the No. 4 starter.

Bard said yesterday’s bullpen session was his fifth or sixth this winter, evidence of the time he has spent building up his endurance and arm strength.

“I’ve been throwing a lot and everything feels great,’’ said Bard, who joined the workouts for the first time yesterday. “This is what I want to be doing.’’

Valentine has not committed to Bard as a starter, saying he wants to evaluate him in spring training before making a decision.

But outside of Bard, the only other healthy candidates on the 40-man roster to join Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester in the rotation are Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront, and Andrew Miller.

Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla, and Carlos Silva are among the veterans coming to camp on minor league contracts.

Early arrival

Position players are not due to report until Feb. 23. But first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a bag of bats in hand, walked into the clubhouse just after 9 a.m. . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka threw in the bullpen along with Bard, Lester, and Miller. Matsuzaka has been in the area for much of the winter rehabilitating from Tommy John elbow surgery. Once covered by throngs of reporters from Japan, Matsuzaka now has only four members of the media following him . . . Outfielder Ryan Kalish did conditioning drills on the field but is not cleared to swing a bat as he recovers from shoulder surgery . . . Former top prospect Ryan Westmoreland, who had brain surgery in March of 2010, was among the large group of minor leaguers on hand. Westmoreland had five plate appearances as a designated hitter during an intrasquad game this winter and hopes to take another step forward this season.

Epstein saga near end?

It has been nearly four months since Theo Epstein resigned as general manager of the Red Sox with one year left on his contract to become vice president of baseball operations for the Cubs. Now, finally, some compensation may be coming back in return.

Commissioner Bud Selig has received reports from both teams and is expected to rule on the matter in the coming days.

Selig initially said he would intercede in the stalled negotiations in November but that deadline passed without him taking action. But when the teams remained unable to reach an agreement, Selig interceded again and now, apparently, will see it through to a conclusion.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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