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Wild times in Toronto for Bard; what comes next?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  June 3, 2012 06:26 PM

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TORONTO — It got to a point on Sunday where Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had little choice but to take Daniel Bard out before he seriously injured one of the Toronto Blue Jays.

As Valentine approached the mound in the second inning, Bard was already walking off, seemingly relieved that the worst performance of his career was over.

“I’ve had bad ones before,” Bard said. “Nothing like that.”

Bard walked six batters and hit two others. That the Red Sox lost the game, 5-1, seemed almost incidental to the question of whether Bard can continue in the rotation.

In a search of major league records going back to 1918, Bard is the first pitcher to walk six and hit two in two or fewer innings. Of his 55 pitches, only 24 were strikes.

For the first time since he became a starter in spring training after spending three seasons as one of the best set-up relievers in the game, Bard admitted he’s not the same pitcher.

“I allowed something to happen when I switched roles,” he said. “I think it’s just maybe that we just tried to turn me into a starter rather than just take the same pitcher I was out of the pen and move that guy to the rotation, which is probably what should have been done.

“It’s partially my fault — it’s all my fault. Maybe it’s a matter of getting back to what I had success doing in the past.”

By that Bard means how he pitched in relief, not going back to the bullpen. But that decision is not his to make.

“Daniel just couldn’t find it, obviously,” said Valentine, who in spring training questioned the decision to make Bard a starter but ultimately went along with it. “I was hoping against hope, I guess. He threw a couple of pitches that looked decent. Just couldn’t repeat them.”

Bard (5-6) has a 5.30 earned run average in 10 starts. Counting his one relief appearance, he has walked 37 and struck out 34. His eight hit batters are tied for the most in the majors with Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.

Bard is the first Red Sox starter to walk six in fewer than two innings since Mickey McDermott, who did it twice in 1950.

If the Red Sox decide to take Bard out of the rotation, Daisuke Matsuzaka is available. He has started seven minor league games in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

Matsuzaka, who is scheduled to start for Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday, has allowed one run on three hits over 10 1/3 innings in his last two starts with one walk and six strikeouts. He is eligible to be activated at any time.

It would be fairly simple to slip Matsuzaka into the rotation on Saturday. Valentine it was too early to make those decisions, but it was something that had to be discussed.

Meanwhile:

• Edwin Encarnacion, who was drilled on the right hand by Bard, came out of the game. X-rays were inconclusive and he will have further tests tomorrow.

Jays starter Drew Hutchison appeared to extract some payback for Bard’s unintentional wildness by hitting Kevin Youkilis in the sixth inning.

Youkilis was hit in the left shoulder by a two-strike fastball and reacted angrily, yelling out at Hutchison. Youkilis also pointed at his hip, the usual spot pitchers aim for when making a point.

Youkilis was not available for comment after the game.

• Dustin Pedroia missed his sixth consecutive game with a torn muscle in his right thumb. But he was available if needed and is expected to play on Tuesday night against Baltimore.

“I’m 100 percent,” he said. “I’ll be out there.”

• Cody Ross said he has been cleared to start working out again after spending 14 days in a walking boot to help heal a fractured bone in his left foot. “We’ll ramp it up slowly, some jogging and hitting for go from there,” he said.

• Darnell McDonald played in his sixth rehabilitation game for Pawtucket on Sunday, going 1 for 5 with a double and two strikeouts at Lehigh Valley.

• Ryan Kalish is playing center for Portland this evening in Altoona, Pa. The game was delayed by rain and will start at 7:15, according to Sea Dogs radio announcer Mike Antonellis.

Follow Mike on Twitter @seadogsradio if you aren't already.

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