6. With the arrival of Rich Hill and the encouraging start to the season by Junichi Tazawa (who is the anti-Michael Bowden in that he doesn't appear to throw anything straight), I'm convinced more than ever that Daniel Bard should remain in the rotation. He's been even better than I anticipated in his early days as a starter, particularly his secondary stuff. (He's throwing his fastball just 50 percent of the time, when he was never lower than 67.7 percent as a reliever.) And you're not going to convince me otherwise, though as always, you're encouraged to try.
7. It's curious that there are such mixed opinions on Mark Melancon's makeup. You hear that he's mentally tough and has a tremendous team-first personality, and you also hear in the wake of his disastrous beginning with the Red Sox that the Yankees were skeptical when he was in their system that he had the guts to succeed in a big market. Despite the 49.50 ERA he brought with him to Pawtucket, I still tend to believe it's the former. The guy saved 20 games last year, with a 2.78 ERA. Yes, I know it was for the Astros, who probably wouldn't have won the Pacific Coast League title. But there's pressure in trying to earn the save and nail down a victory for your team no matter which uniform it is you're wearing. Melancon thrived. I think he will here before this summer is through.
8. And it is encouraging that Melancon has been lights-out at Pawtucket, though I can see this also aiding the argument of those who believe he can't thrive under pressure. (Whaddaya mean, Pawtucket's not a big market?) In four games, he's faced 19 batters. He's allowed exactly two to reach base -- both via a hit-by-pitch.
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Randy Niemann is the Red Sox' assistant pitching coach. Related to nothing, he's also a dead-ringer for the ninth grader who enjoyed ricocheting me off my locker and demanding my lunch money every day when I was in seventh grade. (Including the beard, excluding the Stargell-starred Pittsburgh Pirates hat.) If I ever see him at Fenway, I may just throw my wallet on the ground in run in the other direction if for no other reason than ancient habit.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.