Bard throws 2 scoreless innings, Red Sox beat O’s

Posted March 06, 2012, at 8:42 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For Daniel Bard, it was a nice start. Especially since it was his first one in five years.

Bard is being moved from a relief role to the rotation and he opened with two hitless innings Tuesday as the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4.

Bard struck out two and walked one. The 26-year-old righty has made 192 appearances in three seasons, all of them in relief.

“First, let’s say that wasn’t (Baltimore’s) ‘A’ squad out there and we all know that,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “That being said, Daniel’s two-seamer was good, his four-steamer was good, he threw four sliders, they all did what he wanted them to do. He looked very comfortable on the mound, looked comfortable out of the windup, got into a stretch he was OK, and felt good afterwards.”

Bard made his first start since 2007, his first season in professional baseball.

“I’m not going to go out and guarantee any great success, but I’m not going to rule it out, either. I can tell you that in my mind I don’t see any reason why I can’t go out and be as good as anybody on this staff. And we have some really good pitchers.”

“I’m not going to put any caps on what my expectations are,” he said.

Alfredo Aceves, also trying to transition from the Red Sox bullpen to rotation this spring, followed Bard to the mound and pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

“Aceves looked like it was just a day at the beach for him,” Valentine said. “He was throwing the ball well, and hit his spots, and used more pitches, and different type pitches than Daniel did. They all seemed to be pretty effective.”

Left-hander Dana Eveland started for the Orioles, allowing one run and two hits in two innings.

“A little rusty a first, a little almost overly amped,” Eveland said. “That was the first time getting that adrenaline pumped since September. It was a good feeling, but at the same time you’ve still got to hone it in, and I felt like I did a better job in the second inning. Fell behind three hitters in the first inning. Huge disadvantage for me because I’m not going to overpower guys. I’ve got to pitch ahead and that was the biggest issue, I think.”

Chris Tillman followed Eveland. In two innings, he gave up three runs and four hits. All the damage came in his first inning.

“Tilly’s capable of better than that first inning,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “At the major league level, we can’t constantly be going through those adjustments.”

In his professional debut, right-hander Dylan Bundy pitched a scoreless fifth inning. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Bundy faced the top of the Red Sox lineup — Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Lavarnway. Bundy’s only blemish was a walk to Pedroia.

“Obviously, every pitcher wants to face the best,” Bundy said. “That’s how any pitcher gets better, facing the best. I felt that those three hitters in that lineup were pretty dang good. I came in the game, thought I was going to throw in the eighth or ninth. To pitch in the fifth was pretty special.”

Showalter was satisfied with Bundy’s performance.

“Another good step for him,” Showalter said. “Good spot for him. Another step in the process.”

Ellsbury doubled and scored for Boston. Wilson Betemit drove in two runs for Baltimore and Nick Johnson singled and scored.

Clayton Mortensen got the win, striking out four in 2 1-3 scoreless innings. Michael Bowden earned the save with 1 2-3 shutout innings.

Pirates 7, Yankees 4

BRADENTON, Fla. — After he agreed to a new contract Tuesday, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen was congratulated by Yankees infielders Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter.

“It was all around the bases,” McCutchen said. “But I didn’t get to A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez). I wasn’t on third today.”

McCutchen wasted no time living up to the second-largest contract in Pirates history, collecting two hits and two RBIs in a 7-4 exhibition victory over New York.

The Pirates and McCutchen announced a $51.5 million, six-year contract for the All-Star center fielder before the game. McCutchen set career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (89) while stealing 23 bases last season.

“I was looking forward to it being over so I could exhale,” McCutchen said. “When I signed and shook hands with the owner, I was able to breathe and say, ‘All right, let’s go play the Yankees.’”

McCutchen hit a run-scoring single to left off CC Sabathia in the first and doubled in Clint Barmes in the third.

Sabathia pitched two innings and allowed a run and three hits. He threw 35 pitches and was pleased with the results.

“I’ve still got work to do, but my arm feels good and my body feels good. I feel strong,” Sabathia said. “Being able to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes by the end of spring is really big for me. I threw some good cutters today and a good changeup.”

Right-hander Phil Hughes reached his pitch limit in 1 1-3 innings and was charged with two runs and four hits. Hughes, who went 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA last season, is fighting for the last spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation.

“I’m in a dogfight right now, so I’ve got to pitch well,” Hughes said. “You never want to give up runs in the spring when you’re fighting for a job. I’ll have a few more outings to show the staff what I can do. I hadn’t faced hitters in so long in a game situation. I think everyone’s kind of anxious. Sometimes, It’s hard to control that.”

Hughes didn’t find the strike zone as much as he would’ve liked, but he was encouraged to hear his fastball topped out at 93 mph.

“I’m very pleased with that, especially considering I didn’t top 90 last spring,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction. But it’s not all about fastballs. Everyone likes to get caught up in that because it lights up the gun. I need my secondary pitches as well to be successful.”

Pirates starter Kevin Correia worked two scoreless innings and issued two walks.

Yamaico Navarro, who’s trying to make the Pirates as a backup infielder, hit a two-run double in the eighth. Navarro has five hits in his past six at-bats.

NOTES: RHP Hiroki Kuroda will make his spring training debut with the Yankees on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Kuroda signed a one-year, $10-million deal in the offseason. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi said INF Eduardo Nunez likely will play on Wednesday. Nunez rested Tuesday after being hit on the right wrist by a pitch Monday. X-rays were negative. … Pirates RHP Charlie Morton will make his spring debut Wednesday in an intrasquad game. Morton had hip surgery in October.

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