ANAHEIM -- Daniel Bard finally reappeared in the Red Sox's clubhouse on Wednesday and is expected to be activated for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.
This could represent a fresh start for Bard, who was stunningly optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 5 after a failed transition to the rotation.
"It's good to be back," said Bard. "It took some patience, but I'm glad to finally get the call."
For the last couple of months, Bard reacclimated to life in the bullpen for Triple-A Pawtucket. Though the numbers were hardly spectacular (3-2, 7.03 ERA in 31 appearances), Bard feels that he can regain his groove at the Major League level.
"It just gave me a chance to work on some things without too much consequence in the results," said Bard. "I worked on accomplishing some really good things, and I'm headed in the right direction, and now I just need to get back in a competitive environment and focus on competing with the hitter."
Perhaps it is fitting that Bard rejoins the Red Sox in Anaheim, the same place he made his Major League debut on May 13, 2009.
"Kind of ironic," Bard said. "My wife pointed that out to me. It'll be pretty much like any other outing. I just have to go out and help the team."
Bard felt he turned a corner in recent weeks.
"I feel like I've thrown the ball well the last few weeks. There have been a couple of hiccups here and there, but it was more just trying to tweak something in the mechanics and carrying it into a game. Maybe it didn't go as well as we wanted, but it wasn't a confidence thing," Bard said. "It was working on some new things. The last few have been really good. I feel like I've simplified my delivery to the point that I can just go out there and not think about it and focus on getting the hitter out."
Aviles in limbo as Iglesias gets more playing time
ANAHEIM -- For the second night in a row, Jose Iglesias got the start at shortstop as the Red Sox continue to evaluate whether he can be the answer at that position in the future. After not playing on Tuesday, Mike Aviles was back in the lineup Wednesday, albeit at designated hitter.
With the Red Sox all but out of contention for a postseason spot, this is the time of the season where the organization can start to prioritize development. Aviles, who is hitting .254 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs, could pay a price for that.
"I don't know if that's the case -- maybe," manager Bobby Valentine said.
Valentine hadn't spoken much with Aviles about the situation as of his pregame session with reporters on Wednesday, but he realized it was something that would have to be discussed fairly soon.
"Not much [conversation yet], because I don't know how it will change," Valentine said. "I think Mike's a little concerned about that though, so he's DHing today. I've been a little tied up. I'll probably get to him before the day is over."
One option could be to play Aviles at third base down the stretch, given that Will Middlebrooks is out for the season with a fractured right wrist. However, that would cost Pedro Ciriaco playing time, and he's been a terrific addition to the roster.
"[Aviles has] done a pretty good job at shortstop," Valentine said. "A [darn] good job."
Hill, Atchison could be part of September mix
ANAHEIM -- The Red Sox are optimistic that lefty reliever Rich Hill can make a comeback in September.
After undergoing Tommy John Surgery last season, Hill returned to the Red Sox on April 27, but he suffered a left elbow strain that has kept him out of action since June 8.
Hill pitched a perfect inning on Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket.
"I think he's ready," said manager Bobby Valentine. "I think he'll be ready to pitch here on Sept. 1. He pitched the back to back days, felt good afterwards and he's had very good results."
Another pitcher who could resurface at some point is righty Scott Atchison, who initially thought he might have to have Tommy John surgery, only to have doctors recommend to try rest and rehab.
Atchison was one of Boston's best pitchers prior to the All-Star break.
"We're hopeful," Valentine said. "That's the word. He's trying. He's throwing enough where it looks like he can do it. We'll see."
Valentine gets defensive about not arguing calls
ANAHEIM -- Manager Bobby Valentine urged reporters on Wednesday to no longer second-guess him about controversial calls that he doesn't argue with umpires.
This has happened twice in the last week. Last week, Vernon Wells was awarded a solo homer against the Red Sox on a ball that actually just missed clearing the Green Monster, according to television replays. In Tuesday's walk-off loss to the Angels, Erick Aybar was awarded first base after a pitch might not have hit him on the foot, as home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher ruled.
A reporter asked Valentine before Wednesday's game if he had gone back and reviewed the play.
"I'm sick of people asking me whether or not we saw anything from the dugout and whether or not the umpires got the call right," Valentine said. "Their job is to get the call right. Simple. If they don't get it right, that's not the players on the field's fault for not arguing it.
"It's not the people in the dugout's fault for not seeing it from 80 feet away. They had a job to do -- just do it. That said, I really am sick of talking about that stuff. Thank you. If they can't do their job and get it right, then you reporters all change the system."