PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell will be a busy man this weekend.
After participating in the annual Red Sox Town Hall meeting for fans Thursday night at La Salle Academy, Farrell is traveling to Texas this morning and will meet with right-handed pitcher John Lackey.
Lackey missed the entire 2012 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Since being named manager last October, Farrell has said how important Lackey’s contributions will be for the starting rotation in 2013.
Farrell will then travel to Mississippi on Sunday to meet with right-handed reliever Daniel Bard. In fact, Bard is scheduled to throw for the first time this offseason on Sunday and he’ll be under the watchful eye of Farrell.
Farrell believes Bard can return to form and become a dominating pitcher once again. The two have talked extensively during the offseason in an attempt to right what was wrong with the right-hander in 2012, when he spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket after a failed transition to a starting role.
“There are some changes you can identify there. In talking with Daniel, the most encouraging thing in a situation like this is that he’s aware of the changes that have taken place,” Farrell explained. “Now, unwinding those changes and getting him back to the basics, and when I say basics, of what he’s demonstrated previously and the strengths that he has, I think most importantly, he’s got a clear view of where that needs to settle in from. Not only from a delivery standpoint, but from an aggressive, simplified approach.
“I think as a starter last year, he tried to manipulate the ball maybe a little too much, maybe be a little bit too fine in ways, when he was trying to induce a ground ball a lot, rather than staying with that aggressive approach that has made him successful in Boston.”
Farrell said Bard’s mindset has already improved this winter as he prepares for spring training.
“If I were to map it out, and tell him, it’s gotten better the deeper we’ve gotten in the offseason and I think as he’s picked up a ball and gotten back into the throwing program, he’s felt some things naturally come back to him, particularly his arm slot.
“I’m not going to say ‘time cures all,’ but we’re not just going to put his challenges aside and pretend they didn’t happen. But as he’s gotten further away from it, he’s had a fresh outlook to this, and the workouts he’s gone through this offseason have been very consistent and strong. In the tone and confidence he speaks from is another step in the right direction. That will all be solidified when he commands a baseball in spring training and starts to get some tangible results once he steps on the mound.”
Farrell will return to Boston and begin three days of organizational meetings on Monday.