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Bard not-so rare commodity

08.22.10 at 2:31 pm ET

As hard as Daniel Bard throws, it’s a common assumption that he is a one-inning pitcher, to bridge the eighth inning to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

But these are certainly not ordinary times for the Red Sox. And with the inconsistencies of the middle men in the Red Sox bullpen and the injury to Hideki Okajima, manager Terry Francona has been left with little choice but to lean on Bard maybe a little more than normal.

Stopping short of calling it desperate, Francona said Sunday that he might be inclined to repeat Saturday night’s call to the pen when he asked Bard to pitch the 9th and 10th innings.

“How rare? It might not be,” Francona began. “We’€™ll see. We try to monitor guys all year so when we get to this point, we can do what we need to do. We’€™re not going to hurt anybody but I think he threw 13 pitches.”

After needing just eight pitches to retire the Blue Jays in order in the ninth, there was no reason – in Francona’s mind – not to send Bard out for the 10th.

“Part of the amazing thing, 13 pitches, you have to be pretty good do do that. he just kept pumping strikes, quality strikes. we want to pitch the guys that are getting peple out, as often as possible without overusing them. That’€™s the way it is.’€

So while it’s not ideal, to get a flame-throwing reliever up again for a second inning of work, it’s not that unusual this season – for either Bard or Papelbon.

Consider: Bard leads the staff in bridging innings this season, having finished one inning and started another, 15 times this season. Only long man Scott Atchison, with 18, has more such appearances. Delcarmen has done it 12 and Papelbon and Okajima each have eight multi-inning appearances.

So, can we expect to see Bard continue to be available like he was on Saturday night for the rest of the season?

‘€œWell we’€™re not there yet but I don’€™t anticipate any problems,” Francona said. “He’€™s a pretty sharp kid. He’€™s a hard worker. He prepares. I don’€™t see any dropoff coming. He’€™s been pretty consistent all year. You get pretty much the same stuff every time you go out. There’€™s been a couple of times where we’€™ve dug deep. He got around that 25-pitch mark and you see his arm slot lower a little bit but he’s been pretty solid.”

But as he always does, Francona put perspective on Bard’s usage. It’s great he’s available but the Red Sox would rather not make it a habit.

“Bard can do that,” Francona said when asked if Bard could consistently give Derek Lowe-type innings as a reliever. “I don’t know we want to be running Bard out there two innings all the time. That’s not the goal.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
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