CHICAGO -- It wasn't so much a debate as it was an outcry. Following a 4-10 start by the Red Sox, fans wanted Daniel Bard back in the bullpen, and they wanted the move made promptly.
But Bard would only go back to his former role for one night, and only because a rainout forced his start to be skipped.
Friday night, when Bard returned to the rotation, he made his most convincing case yet that he should stay there for good.
The righty had electric stuff, holding the White Sox to six hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out six over seven innings in a second straight 10-3 rout.
"I've been very impressed with his focus," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "Those things could have gotten him, mentally, out of touch with his start tonight. The things that went on tonight, from the cold weather to some of the things that happened, could have gotten him out of focus. He wanted to go out there again. I think he had a complete game in him tonight. If it wasn't so cold and he didn't have those long layovers, I'd have given him a chance for it."
By the way, the once 4-10 Red Sox are now 9-10. The bullpen is somehow surviving without Bard, which means he just might be able to stay put.
"I know it's been said over and over but I do feel like I've gotten better with each outing, going back to the spring," Bard said. "I've gotten more comfortable with throwing offspeed in fastball counts. I'm more consistently throwing strike one with my fastball, which tonight was huge for me. So, it's just a combination of things. I'm just learning the nuances of starting. Tonight was, I feel, a step in the right direction."
Bard's evolution as a starter is there for all to see.
"It's hard to put it all into words. We've seen an evolution," Valentine said. "The first time we looked at him, we were worried if he'd have a windup. He got through the windup. We worried about the third pitch. He got through the third pitch. We worried about his ability to go more than 60 pitches. He just keeps progressing. He's doing well."