The Red Sox finally have grown weary of Alfredo Aceves, deciding Wednesday to option the righthander to Triple A Pawtucket.
The move came after a 6-5 victory against Oakland at Fenway Park. No corresponding move was announced, but sources said the Sox would call up catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
Aceves’s spot in the rotation does not come up until Sunday. John Lackey is expected to come off the disabled list for that game.
Aceves has an 8.66 earned run average in five appearances, the latest coming Tuesday when he gave up seven earned runs over 3⅓ innings against the Athletics.
Aceves blamed the strike zone of umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and wondered why his teammates didn’t give him any offensive support in the 13-0 loss.
“They got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It’s just bad today. No matter what score it is, we’ve got to get back out there and give whatever we have, man,” Aceves said.
Before the game, manager John Farrell claimed he had no issue with what Aceves said.
“I don’t know if in that context Alfredo was calling out his teammates. I don’t believe he was. There was some frustration,” Farrell said.
Aceves is 1-5 with an 8.51 ERA and three blown saves in 25 games since last Aug. 1. There also have been some behavioral incidents.
“The bottom line is just that, the bottom line,” Farrell said. “You’ve got to perform to continue to get opportunities.”
There are indications the Sox are trying to trade Aceves. At this point, he may not have much value.
Lavarnway was hitting .318 with an .875 OPS in Pawtucket.
Daniel Bard was in the Sox clubhouse early in the morning to reclaim his No. 51. Ryan Dempster has his old locker, so Bard took up residence in a new spot near the door.
The 27-year-old righthander looked and sounded the same as teammates shook his hand or offered a hug. The question now is how he will pitch once he takes the mound in a major league game
Bard and the Sox were co-conspirators in an ill-advised plan to make him a starter last season. The scheme derailed his career, turning Bard into a pitcher who lost velocity, command, and confidence in a span of a few months. He ended up in the minor leagues in June and pitched poorly when he returned in August.
The Sox optioned Bard to Double A Portland during the final days of spring training. He worked there with pitching coach Bob Kipper to find a delivery that was more simple and repeatable. Now, after a relatively short run of success against Eastern League hitters, he is back in the majors.
“It feels good to be here. It’s been an interesting road,” Bard said in the dugout after batting practice. “I think going to Portland for a little while was probably the best thing. I was with a good group of guys and I couldn’t ask for more out of the coaching staff there. They were awesome. But it’s always nice to see this place.”
Bard said his delivery feels “easy” and that has been reflected in his recent outings.
In his last five games, Bard allowed one unearned run on five hits and three walks over six innings and fanned three.
“Kip was a great guy to work with. Kind of pounds things into your head, almost to where it gets annoying. But it’s good,” Bard said. “I think everyone agrees who has played for him, it sticks and he genuinely cares.”
Bard worked with Kipper when he was coming up through the organization. The lessons he learned then were reinforced the second time around. “I always had a good relationship with him. I don’t think I ever really knew how much I valued him until this year,” Bard said.
Said Kipper, “The difference to me as opposed to 2007, 2008 is prior to [that], Daniel had no professional experience. He was a college pitcher. This year, he has three dominating years in the big leagues that he can reference and draw from. This guy was a dominating pitcher and he knows it. I told someone the other day, Daniel Bard didn’t all of a sudden get amnesia and forget how it all happened. He knows. You just had to bring him back to that point, and that was my attempt.”
According to Farrell, Bard has been consistently 93-96 miles per hour with his fastball, which is down from the 97-99 m.p.h. he showed as a late-inning ace from 2010-11. But that is certainly fast enough to have success. It’s how well he commands that fastball that ultimately matters.
“It’s been really good,” Bard said. “Even if I come out of my delivery on a pitch I’m able to get back into it in one or two pitches rather than spend the whole inning trying to find it. I think that’s come from simplifying things, shortening the leg kick a little. Everything’s gotten a little more athletic, a little more rhythm to it.”
Bard said he doesn’t know what his velocity has been. But he can gauge its effectiveness by the reaction from the hitters.
“I’ve been getting a lot of defensive swings on my fastball, righties and lefties. A lot of broken bats mixed in. That always tells you you’re doing something right, that the fastball has a little life to it,” Bard said.
Steven Wright threw 82 pitches over 3⅔ innings Wednesday and wasn’t going to be available for at least four days. When he was optioned after the game, Bard was recalled.
Is Bard with the Sox temporarily or can he reclaim his spot on the team?
“He’s here to do just that, to perform and be a regular in our bullpen,” Farrell said.
Bard, Farrell said, will be used in early inning situations.
Victorino comes out
Right fielder Shane Victorino left the game after the sixth inning with a sore lower back, the same injury that caused him to miss two games over the weekend.
Victorino barely jogged to first when he grounded out in the sixth. He was working with physical therapist Dan Dyrek on his back before the game and was 1 for 3 with an RBI double before aggravating the injury.
Farrell said Victorino’s back tightened up but did not seem as bad as it was previously. He will be evaluated Thursday.
Joel Hanrahan threw in the bullpen before the game and is set to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket Friday. The righthander is on the disabled list because of a hamstring strain . . . Lefthander Craig Breslow is scheduled to pitch for the PawSox Saturday and Sunday. He has been out all season with shoulder soreness. Breslow faced four hitters in Portland Tuesday and didn’t record an out. Breslow, Farrell said, didn’t have a feel for his breaking ball. He’s also building arm strength after missing all of spring training . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales was at Fenway for the first time this year. The lower back injury that landed him on the disabled list has healed but now Morales has a sore left pectoral, the product of his rehab start for Single A Greenville April 17. Morales is at least a few days from getting back on the mound and his next minor league game has not been scheduled.
Security officials at Fenway Park are closely examining all bags and checking fans with hand-held metal detectors in the wake of the Marathon bombings. Give yourself some extra time if you’re coming to a game . . . David Ortiz has an unusual 16-game hitting streak, his longest as a member of the Red Sox. It started in July, included one game in August, and now four games in April. He is 8 of 16 since coming off the disabled list . . . Another set of police officers from Watertown were introduced after the fourth inning and got a big ovation from the crowd . . . Special assistant to the general manager Jason Varitek is spending time with Single A Salem this week. The primary catcher there, Blake Swihart, is one of the organization’s best prospects . . . It was 64 degrees and sunny at first pitch. That was a big change from Tuesday night, when it was 42 and raining. The Sox offered free tickets to those fans who attended (or skipped) Tuesday’s sodden affair. The team said 1,399 took the offer Wednesday. The offer was also good for Thursday.