April 4, 2013

Sea Dogs opener: Hadlock night with a tinge of Boston

Stephen Drew is on rehab and Daniel Bard is a member of the Sea Dogs to start the season.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Daniel Bard won't be the only player with major league experience in a Sea Dogs uniform Thursday night when Portland opens its season at Hadlock Field at 6.

click image to enlarge

Stephen Drew, recovering from a concussion, may be with the Sea Dogs through the weekend before reporting to the Red Sox.

Reuters

THURSDAY’S OPENER

WHO: Trenton Thunder (Nik Turley) vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Drake Britton)

WHEN: 6 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: 1,800 available

Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew will play for the Sea Dogs on a rehab assignment that could last through Sunday, according to reports from media covering the Red Sox.

Drew, 30, who signed a $9.5 million one-year contract with Boston in the offseason, missed most of spring training after suffering a concussion when he was hit by a pitch March 7.

He was cleared to play two days ago and has taken part in extended spring training games in Fort Myers, Fla.

Before Wednesday night's Red Sox-New York Yankees game, Boston Manager John Farrell said Drew will be in Portland Thursday night.

Farrell said he hopes Drew can play in the Red Sox home opener Monday.

The Sea Dogs will open their season with a seven-game homestand at Hadlock Field.

Drake Britton will start for Portland Thursday night. Starters this time of year rarely go deep into the game, so the Sea Dogs will be using a few relievers.

One of those could be Bard, 27, certainly a familiar face both in Portland and Boston.

Bard pitched here in 2008 and was in the big leagues the next year.

In 2010, Bard was the setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon and recorded a 1.93 ERA.

In 2011, Bard set a Red Sox record with 25 consecutive scoreless appearances.

In 2012, the Red Sox moved Bard into a starting role and it didn't work out (4-6, 5.30 ERA). The Red Sox sent him to Triple-A Pawtucket.

When Bard returned as a reliever, he wasn't the same pitcher (nine earned runs in seven appearances).

Under Farrell and new pitching coach Juan Nieves, Bard has worked to regain his form this spring. The results were mixed.

"They told me there were flashes of being really good in spring training," Bard said. "Even the outings I gave up a couple of runs, I still felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well.

"Maybe just that little bit more consistency (is needed). It comes with repetition and putting in the work between outings. That's what we'll do here."

Bard was surprised at first to hear he was being sent to Double-A.

"When they told me, I wanted an explanation and they gave that," Bard said. "A big reason was coming to work with (Sea Dogs pitching coach) Bob Kipper. He was with me in '08 in A ball. That's kind of when things clicked for me and I was able to take off in the minor leagues.

"He's a good guy to work with, a great guy to be around every day. Positive. Reinforces all the good things you're doing. I'm excited to work with him."

Bard, a first-round draft pick in 2006, made his pro debut with Kipper in Lancaster, Calif., then the advanced Class A affiliate for Boston.

Bard struggled mightily (10.13 ERA). He was sent down to lower Class A Greenville and the results weren't much better (6.42).

Bard worked on his mechanics (with former Sea Dogs pitching coach Mike Cather) in the Hawaiian fall league and entered spring training in 2008 a different pitcher.

"He did a 180," Kipper said. "The simple things he identified with his delivery allowed it to be more repeatable. When you're successful, success breeds confidence, and we've seen what he can do with confidence."

(Continued on page 2)

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