Daniel Bard passed on an interview request made through the Red Sox. But he did issue a brief statement to the beat writers regarding the departure of Jonathan Papelbon.
“I’m happy for Pap as he’s worked extremely hard for this and he and his family will be missed in Boston,” Bard said.
He refused further comment regarding his role for 2012 citing the lack of a manager and pitching coach.
Bard was Papelbon’s primary set-up man the last two seasons. He had a 1.93 ERA and a 1.004 WHIP in 2010. His ERA climbed to 3.33 in 2011 but his WHIP dropped to 0.959.
ERA is a fairly useless statistic for relievers given that one or two bad outings can irrevocably damage it for the entire season. Bard had a 2.03 ERA through Aug. 31. He then had a poor September, allowing 13 earned runs over 11 innings — five in one game against Toronto on Sept. 7.
Ben Cherington said last week that Bard is ready for more responsibility but did not commit to the idea of using him as a closer.
The Sox would seem to have two option: Use Bard as a closer or sign one of the many closers on the market and leave Bard in his valuable role as the set-up man.
They also could split the difference by signing one of the second-tier closers (like Jonathan Broxton, Joe Nathan or Brad Lidge) to a one-year deal and holding a competition in spring training.