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One of the challenges ahead for new Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure will be to figure out the composition of his staff. That includes the roles that will be assigned to Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves -- whether they end up in the rotation or in the bullpen, and how they start in spring training.
"No. 1, however it turns out for either one of them or if there's more than a couple of them, by starting them out as starters in spring training, possibly working on a third pitch, which may be important," McClure said. "Usually if you're a starter trying to get three times through the lineup, is basically if they go into spring training and learn working as starters. It’s only going to make them better pitchers pitching them three to four to five innings and if they wind up going back to the bullpen then they go back to the bullpen."
McClure makes a lot of sense here. Whether it actually plays out the way he describes in real-life, we'll probably see soon enough. But when you take a guy from the bullpen, and throw him into Spring Training as a starter, he's going to work on his 'lesser' pitches, and he's going to focus on building up his arm strength and repeating his delivery. These are all things that, in theory, will make a pitcher better.
The concern here is that you don't spend enough time fine-tuning your pitches that make you a successful relief pitcher. That's a much bigger concern for Bard than Aceves. That all said, by the time we actually get to Spring Training, all of this could be moot.
By then we should have to know how our rotation is going to shake out. It's always possible it changes, but if we don't add any other pieces by Spring, then Bard and Aceves are in. Then they can focus on truly becoming starters, and not have it in the back of their heads that they'll probably get shifted back to the pen. But I can't see the Red Sox not bringing in any other starters. Especially when Cherington discusses the need for starting pitching 'quality depth'.
We're not the Pirates. We don't have the luxury to take a flier on 40% of our rotation, cross our fingers and hope they pan out. Especially when there is no one to back-fill their roles in the bullpen. The Red Sox will add at least two more pitches by the time this offseason is through. Who those players are, and what roles they'll be signed to play are to be determined.
Rest of the links:
CSNNE - McClure heeds Mom's advice, takes Sox job | Bobby V preaches conditioning | Herald - Checking the crystal ball on the Red Sox’ 2012 lineup | Mike Boyle a good fit with Sox | WEEI - Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure on The Big Show: ‘Kick ass and win’ | Red Sox announce 2012 coaching staff | NESN - Bob McClure's Conversion From Reliever to Starter During Playing Days Could Ease Daniel Bard's Transition