PAWTUCKET, R.I. ó Daniel Bard is done with starting. At least for now.
The righthander, demoted to Triple A on June 5, is going to continue working on being a reliever in Pawtucket, with the plan for him to come back to the Red Sox as a reliever, whenever the team is ready for him to return. That part is still unknown.
It was apparently a conclusion that came to both Bard and the Red Sox front office simultaneously earlier this week. Bard said today that he figured out that the bullpen made the most sense for him, and then got a call from Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Tuesday or Wednesday telling him the team felt the same.
"It just kind of hit me, felt like that's where I belong," Bard said. "That's the role I belong in. Even in a game in Triple A, it doesn't have the same implications as one up in Boston, it's still that feeling of coming out of the bullpen, pitching with that extra adrenaline and stuff.
"It just felt right. It felt like thatís where Iím supposed to be. I knew then that itís something that I wanted to do moving forward."
Cherington, in his conversation with Bard, told the pitcher that the team feels that having him come out of the bullpen "gives me the best chance to help the team this year," Bard said.
After Bard began to feel the pull back to the bullpen, he spent time considering the idea, talking to people he trusts. He had, after all, spent the winter preparing to start in Boston. That experiment was not entirely successful, though Bard believes that he can still work as a starter. But that won't happen this year.
Bard said that Cherington did not give him an indication of when he might be returning to Boston. Nor did Cherington or Bobby Valentine ó with whom Bard has exchanged six voicemails this week ó indicate what his role might be when he gets back to the Red Sox.
But all seem pleased with the new arrangement.
"I told him I still think I could be a good starter [in the future]," Bard said. "I think I can be a great reliever. Iím already a good reliever. It just seemed like thereís more conviction for me to do that. Thereís a lot of conviction in that decision for me.
"And it started with me. Thatís what I like about it. I do feel like a big part was my decision."