Bard, the Sox's fifth starter and a converted reliever, returned to his old bullpen role in the eighth inning of a 6-5 win over the Twins on Monday. The team used the outing to keep the right-hander from going 10 days without game action, and perhaps more importantly, to give the club's underperforming bullpen a temporary facelift.
"Well, he said that he'll do what's best for the team, and we had a tough situation there," Valentine said of Bard's ability to hold the go-ahead run for the Twins on third with one out. "I didn't think it'd be that tough for him to come into. [He got a] 3-2 line drive to third and a pop up to short and a win in his win column. He allowed everybody to be a happy camper."
It's unlikely Bard will be used on back-to-back days, so unless Boston decides it needs him in the bullpen, he'll be headed back to the rotation for a start Friday in Chicago. Bard's scheduled start Sunday was rained out at Fenway Park, and the Red Sox elected to skip his turn in the rotation instead of pushing the rest of their starters back. Bard last started April 16.
"It was the same thing I've done for the last few years," Bard said. "I mean, it's a little weird just being out there just because I haven't done it this year yet. It's like riding a bike. I had a pretty well-established routine the last three years, four years. It was pretty easy to get back into it."
Valentine said he considered bring Bard back out for the ninth. Bard was curious, too.
"I just asked if I was still out there," Bard said. "He just said if we took the lead, [closer Alfredo Aceves] was in. If it was tied, I would've gone back out."
Before Bard threw Monday, he said it wasn't his decision what role would best benefit the team, but he cautioned Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington that he is not a cure-all.
"That's the one thing I told them right away," Bard said. "I'm totally willing to do this ... and told them it's their decision how to use me. I was OK with it. ... I'm not going to be able to make eight guys pitch better. I can go down and do what I can, and if that offers maybe some comfort to the other guys and let's guys fall into their roles, maybe it can help everybody."
Accepting as he was of the move, Bard did want to know where the Red Sox were coming from.
"I asked a lot of questions as to what their goals were in this," Bard said. "They said right now they have every intention of it being temporary and making my start on Friday. That's where I'm at right now. I still view myself as a starter, and they said that they do, too. That's where they said they want me in the long run. For now, they said they'll try to address a need for a couple days and keep me from going 10 days without throwing, as well. [I] told them I was OK with it."
Valentine said the team, too, values Bard more as a starter, while not fully closing the door on the possibility of Bard returning to a relief job. Aaron Cook is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket and can opt out of his contract if he's not on the big league roster by May 1, and Daisuke Matsuzaka started his return from Tommy John surgery with a rehab outing at Class-A Salem on Monday. Both could be starting pitching options in place of Bard in the next few weeks.
"It doesn't look like it's a great temptation," Valentine said of keeping Bard in the bullpen. "Daniel's pretty well set on being a starter. He's pitched real well in the starting rotation."