As of right now, Daniel Bard is still in the mix for the rotation. It's not a given he's in, according to manager Bobby Valentine (and Bard himself), but he's still in the running. Sean McAdam's report from Wednesday about Bard being sent back to the bullpen, with Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront in the rotation, could still turn out to be accurate. But it appears a final decision has not been made yet.
Bard is scheduled for another spring straining start, and he believes he's making progress. Valentine is not as pleased, but is also in a position to let his players know what's expected of them and their development -- it could be tough love as easily as it could be his telling the media that Bard is not going to win.
McAdam's source could be tipping the Red Sox's hand based on what's gone on this spring. But Bard showed some promise in his last start against the Blue Jays, and has at least one more left to show the role should be his. It's a difficult transition, and it's tough to gauge whether he'll succeed based on just a few weeks of spring pitching, but that's all the Red Sox have to go on before the season begins.
Nick Cafardo tweets that the Red Sox are keeping an eye on Mike Gonzalez, as the lefty options they've tried to evaluate this spring --Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller -- have been slowed by injuries.
Gonzalez spent nine days with Boston back in 2003 after the Red Sox acquired him for Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez, then was sent back along with Freddy Sanchez in a rejiggered deal that brought the Red Sox back the players they dealt, along with Jeff Suppan.
Much has changed with Gonzalez since the last time he was in the Red Sox organization, with both the pitcher and Boston. From 2004 through 2009, Gonzalez posted a 2.41 ERA, struck out 10.7 per nine, and posted a 2.6 K/BB. Since then, he's thrown just 78 frames, and struggled more with hits and homers allowed than in the past. The two rotator cuff and labrum fraying in 2010 didn't help, but his shoulder survived the 2011 season.
Gonzalez still misses bats, though, even though not at the extremes he used to. He still limits lefties, too, holding them to .221/.277/.340 the last three years, and .213/.281/.335 with a 3.7 K/BB in his career. If used primarily against lefties, he could be of use to the Red Sox, or just act as insurance against Miller not working out, or Rich Hill not coming back effective. At this late date, he'd be cheap, too.
Kelly Shoppach doesn't statistically measure up defensively according to recent research, but the opinions of those who have worked with him differ from that:
"He's a very calm guy," said Shoppach's former manager, Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay. "He's able to slow the game down. He handles pitchers well. He threw really well last year. [He has a] very quick release. Overall, the hitting was inconsistent, but he came on at the right time. Notoriously, he can hurt a left-handed pitcher. That's who he is. But he's a great guy on the team. I had a blast with him. I really enjoyed him a lot. I think he has a chance to add a lot to that team."
Shoppach is also aware he's likely a short-term solution in Boston, until Ryan Lavarnway is ready. But if he hits lefties, can do some things behind the plate, and is a good clubhouse guy as he's been reported to be in the past, then he's done his job as a bridge to Lavarnway.
Good news, everyone: