Daniel Bard didn’t smash a water cooler when the Red Sox informed him he was being optioned to Pawtucket. But he was far from ecstatic.
“It’s not my decision,” Bard said before Friday’s game against Indianapolis. “I’m just an employee here. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with it. If it was me making the decision it might have been different.
“Once I get the anger and disappointment out of the way, you just have to try to make the best out of the situation.”
The “situation” with Boston is why Bard’s now wearing a PawSox uniform.
In 11 starts, he was 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA replete with 52 hits, 37 walks and only 34 strikeouts in 55 innings. And over his last seven starts, his ERA was 6.06. Bard expressed the opinion that the problems which led to his ineffectiveness as a starter after being converted from a reliever commenced in spring training.
“I think we came into spring training and thought ‘Okay, how do we need to change everything I do to fit the starting role?’”, Bard said. “I don’t think we needed to change as much as we thought we did. We tweaked a lot of things mechanically trying to simplify me … trying to get the best windup that I’m comfortable with. We probably did a little too much. You can’t think and pitch at the same time. I think that’s the key to it.”
Whether or not Bard was “thinking” too much Friday night is open to debate considering that even though he threw one inning as scheduled, he allowed two hits, hit two batters and served up two runs as the Indians edged the PawSox, 8-6, in 13 innings.
“I was told to give him the ball and let him go out and throw,” PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler said. “He threw an inning for us tonight. I think he’s going to throw three days later and we’ll go from there.
“It’s pretty simple. Give him the ball and let him go out and throw. Nobody’s down here to reinvent the wheel.”
Might the question be in what capacity will Bard throw — as a starter or a reliever?
“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty on (Boston’s) part,” said Bard, who threw a bullpen session Wednesday. “They asked me how I felt about the starter-reliever thing and I said I would throw out of the pen for flexibility. But if they want me to start, that’s what I’ll do.”
What Bard also felt was his lack of effectiveness affected him mentally.
“No matter if I was in a bullpen session or in a game, it just wasn’t the same as it used to be,” he said. “I think that translates mentally in that it’s hard to trust your stuff. When I was throwing 98 out of the bullpen and now my best fastball when I’m reaching back and it’s 92 or 93, there’s something that comes with that.
“For me I think it started with changing the mechanics. The velocity went down a little bit. The command wasn’t what it was. Who knows what my velocity will settle in at once we get all of this figured out. But it’s a matter of finding a delivery and getting comfortable.”
As Beyeler alluded to, Bard will be pitching fewer innings than he normally would as a starter.
“I think it’s more to be able to repeat my delivery more often.” Bard said. “If I go out there tomorrow and throw five innings and I feel the same as I have in my last couple starts but get through five, we’re wasting bullets.
“If I do it again a couple of days later and it feels good, that would be a step in the right direction.”
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