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Red Sox sign Josh Bard

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  • Red Sox sign Josh Bard

    When Theo Epstein discussed the Red Sox' catching situation with Josh Bard this offseason, with an eye to potentially reacquiring the catcher as a foil for Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, there was a key question the general manager had to ask: What happened?

    Bard, who came to the Sox from the Indians in a trade before the 2006 season, had beaten out two other catchers to claim the somewhat unenviable position of personal catcher for Wakefield. But then, once the season started, he couldn't catch the knuckleball.

    It took only until May 1, with 10 passed balls in just seven games, before the Sox gave up on him.

    "They ask tough questions," Bard said of Epstein and manager Terry Francona. "It just came down to, what happened? They both said coming out of camp there wasn't a doubt in their mind I would be able to do it. That obviously wasn't the case.

    "I think [when the season started] in my immaturity, I tried to be somebody I wasn't. We're two totally different people [Bard and former Wakefield catcher Doug Mirabelli]. He's shorter armed and stockier. I was trying to let the ball get too deep and it ate me up.

    "I think I'm going to be aggressive, how I would catch a normal pitch."

    He'll have a chance to try out his theory this season, since Bard has agreed to a $1.7 million, nonguaranteed deal with a club option for 2010, a pact that was first reported last Sunday and became official yesterday. The deal has incentives that could push its value as high as $2.5 million. While he is viewed as a backup, the switch-hitting Bard said he was assured he would be doing more than just catching Wakefield this time around, whether that means spelling the starter in day games or platooning.

    "With our catching situation open for the moment, we felt like 'buying low' on Josh Bard was a good opportunity," Epstein wrote in an e-mail. "He's someone we trust to call a game, to handle pitchers, to shoulder responsibility behind the plate, and to grind his at-bats. We believe his health situation was the primary factor in his offensive and defensive performance last year, and we feel he is healthy and has a chance to bounce back. Whether he catches Tim Wakefield or not - and he certainly has conviction that he can - he adds a lot to our catching corps, including the versatility to be a nice complement or more as the situation dictates."

    So even though it didn't go so well the first time, the 30-year-old Bard has no qualms about returning to Boston.

    "I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders," Bard said. "If I missed one, the world was going to be over. Now you understand that everybody misses knuckleballs.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/basebal...edeem_himself/

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