Tuesday Red Sox Notes: Carpenter, Injuries, Bard

The news of the day is, of course, the rather disappointing conclusion to the Theo Epstein compensation saga. Chris Carpenter (not that one) is now with the Red Sox, leaving the team essentially the same as it was yesterday, but with one fewer potential 40-man spot.

Yay!

If there is some bright side to this, it's that the Sox seem to have done their homework on Carpenter, who had an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League according to Alex Speier:

Though Carpenter has struggled with his command and health throughout his minor league career, the team was impressed by what it saw from him in the Arizona Fall League after the 2011 season. Carpenter was 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA, 18 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 2/3 innings.

"We felt like he was making some good adjustments there," Cherington said. "We're really happy to have him. He's a young power arm reliever we think has a chance to be a really good big league pitcher."

With compensation settled, it seems as though the Sox' 40-man is also well-and-truly settled, the offseason is over, and spring training can finally begin. So let's see what's going on down in Fort Myers, shall we?

Tuesday has brought with it a fair amount of injury news. First up is Carl Crawford, who according to Scott Lauber has begun to hit off a tee. It's a fairly positive start to spring training for Crawford, who had hit rock bottom when wrist surgery followed his terrible first season. He seems to be getting along well enough with new manager Bobby Valentine, is finally cleared to swing the bat again, has decided to close his stance, and is even working on some self improvement, as Peter Gammons says he has brought in Mike Roberts to help him with his base stealing.

Obviously, Crawford has a lot to prove after 2011, but a good start can go a long way.

*****

Then there's Daisuke Matsuzaka, who played catch with Valentine earlier today, per Brian MacPherson. While the experience was apparently a bit unnerving for Matsuzaka, he does have some good news:

"The trainers have mentioned an approximate date where they expect me to make a return," he said. "But, having said that, I want to come back at 100 percent. I don't want to rush things, and I want to make sure my body is right when I come back. But I also would like to come back as early as possible."

When might that be?

"I don't want to say, but it's probably earlier than what you guys have in mind," he said.

While nobody is anxious to have the 2011 Daisuke back anytime soon, he actually could play an important role for the team if he can make a full comeback sooner rather than later. As much of a disappointment as he's been over the course of his career, an average starter could go a long way towards bolstering the back end of Boston's rotation over what they had for much of last year (see: Miller, Lackey).

*****

In less positive news, Bobby Jenks is the first of Boston's pitchers to hit the 60-day DL, making room for Carpenter on the 40-man. While Daisuke and Lackey are likely not far behind, this is confirmation that Jenks will not be back for at least the first month of the season following an unfortunate offseason health-wise.

It's hard to imagine that the Sox were counting on much from Jenks given their acquisition of both Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Still, having another wild card in the unit could hardly have hurt.

One question I feel the need to ask is if Jenks represents the most useless player to ever receive a significant contract from the Red Sox? Obviously he's not the worst contract--regardless of what happens with John Lackey and Carl Crawford over the rest of their deals, the likes of Julio Lugo top him easily--but at least Lugo played his position on occasion. In exchange for their $12 million, the Sox have so far received 15 terrible innings, with no promise of any more to come. It's kind of incredible.

*****

Finally, moving away from actual current injuries, there's Daniel Bard, who seems perfectly willing to risk acquiring one over the course of the season by throwing as many innings as he can. Telling reporters (such as Alex Speier) today that he wanted to either start or close, Bard also added that he didn't see the need for any sort of innings limit.

While I'm sure Bard is ready and raring to go on what could be quite the lucrative shift, I don't think Sox fans will be too enthusiastic about letting Bard loose quite so quickly. As much as the notorious Verducci Effect has been taken apart throughout the years, in the situation of a reliever being switched to a starter, allowing him to start 30+ games and go deep in as many as possible doesn't seem like the best way to make the transition. It would be a disaster if the experiment not only failed, but left Bard unable to return to his former performance levels as a reliever.

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