Daniel Bard has made 192 relief appearances for Boston over the past three seasons, and the hard-throwing right-hander will make the first start of his career, despite the struggles running rampant in Boston's bullpen.
"It's been kind of a long road to get to this point," Bard said. "I've put a lot of work into getting here. The opportunity finally presented itself, and I'm excited about it."
Closer Andrew Bailey is sidelined for a few months following right thumb surgery, prompting fans to clamor for Bard to serve as the last line of defense out of the 'pen.
"Poor guy has been thrown into a situation that no one should have to be thrown into really before his first Major League start of the season," Sox skipper Bobby Valentine said. "Words aren't going to do anything more than his performance will, that's for sure."
Bard's first opponent, the Blue Jays, won't be intimidated.
"We're not afraid of anybody," Toronto slugger Jose Bautista said. "We're not intimidated by any opponent that might come to town. That doesn't mean we're going to come out and beat everyone by 10 runs, but we feel like we can compete and have a chance every game."
Red Sox: Bullpen takes step in right direction
The Tigers shelled Boston's bullpen over the weekend.
Closer Alfredo Aceves didn't record an out in either of his appearances. Setup man Mark Melancon allowed four runs on five hits in his two outings.
Valentine took the onus upon himself to better employ his relievers.
"I've just got to manage it a little better," Valentine said. "That's all I think. I think we have the arms out there to do what we have to do -- just get the guys in the right position to do it."
On Monday, the 'pen took a step in the right direction, thanks to three scoreless frames from Scott Atchison. Aceves finished out Boston's comeback victory with a perfect ninth inning and his first save.
Bard has held Bautista hitless in six career at-bats.
"You've just got to keep varying your looks on him," Bard said. "He's not a guy you can consistently get out the same way each time you face him. He's too smart for that, so just keep mixing it up on him and change your approach constantly, because he constantly makes adjustments at the plate."
Blue Jays: Farrell alters lineup against lefty
For the first time this season, Toronto faced a left-handed starter. Manager John Farrell adjusted his batting order accordingly, moving designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion into the cleanup spot and sliding Adam Lind down to the No. 5 hole.
Farrel also sat left fielder Eric Thames in favor of Rajai Davis.
"Hitters are going to find themselves in one of three groups inside of a lineup -- upper third, middle third or bottom third," Farrell said. "We've got some flexibility because of the balance on our roster."
Just fewer than 50,000 fans attended Toronto's home opener at Rogers Centre on Monday, when the Blue Jays lost to the Red Sox, 4-2.
Farrell hopes the fans have high expectations for their team this season.
"I would hope they would expect the highest," Farrell said, "and that would be a team that's contending as we get deep into this regular season. I feel like there are a lot of pieces here that people can begin to latch onto and take notice -- whether those are individuals in our uniform of the style in which we play."
The Red Sox won 10 of their 18 meetings with the Blue Jays last season. They outscored Toronto, 137-77.
Bard has surrendered just four hits in 37 at-bats against current Blue Jays hitters.