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Friday, March 30, 2012
Bard pitching for job? Bobby V says no

By Gordon Edes

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daniel Bard makes his last spring training start Friday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, with the final composition of the Red Sox starting rotation yet to be announced.

Nonetheless, manager Bobby Valentine insisted Bard is not pitching for his spot in the rotation against the Twins. So, does that mean the decision has been made?

"It hasn't really been made,'' Valentine said. "I think the decision that he can start has been made, that he is capable of starting.''

Valentine had hinted Thursday that other "situations" might come into play that could impact the rotation. Did that include roster tweaking?

"Not really,'' he said. "You never know. Something comes up.''

It appears, then, that the Sox want to make certain that Bard makes it through his start healthy before informing the four pitchers still in the running -- Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront and Aaron Cook -- of the team's decision.

Doubront and Bard would appear to have the inside track, with Aceves returning to the pen and Cook beginning the season in Triple-A. But that remains an educated guess.

* Valentine revealed his thinking regarding how he plans to deploy his outfielders in the absence of Carl Crawford. Cody Ross will play left and Ryan Sweeney right when both are in the lineup, while Ross will switch to right and Darnell McDonald will play left when they are together. Valentine does not foresee Sweeney playing any left.

* Nick Punto is starting at first base Friday, while Adrian Gonzalez amasses as many at-bats as he wants in minor-league games Friday. Punto has played 35 innings at second and 11 at third. None, interestingly, at short, which supports the possibility that Pedro Ciriaco could make the club. Valentine said it will be useful to have Punto get a little work over at first, though he added Kevin Youkilis said he would be willing to cross the diamond if necessary.

* Andrew Miller is scheduled to throw a side session Saturday and an inning of a minor-league game on Monday. Rich Hill is scheduled to pitch an inning in a simulated game on Saturday.

* Ross Ohlendorf will start against the Rays on Saturday. Vicente Padilla draws the Twins on Sunday, and Aaron Cook gets the Nationals on Tuesday. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett will both pitch in minor-league games, Lester on Saturday morning and Beckett Sunday.

Here are today’s lineups:

RED SOX
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jarrod Saltalmacchia, C
6. Cody Ross, LF
7. Ryan Sweeney, RF
8. Mike Aviles, SS
9. Nick Punto, 1B
SP -- Daniel Bard, RHP

TWINS
1. Denard Span, cf
2. Brian Dozier, ss
3. Joe Mauer, c
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham LF
6. Sean Burroughs, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Trevor Plouffe, RF
9. Michael Hollimon, 2B
SP -- Nick Blackburn, RHP