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BOSTON (CBS) – Daniel Bard is looking to restart his major league career where it all started.
“It’s good to be back,” Bard told WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Jonny Miller prior Boston’s 10-3 loss to the Angels at Angels Stadium Wednesday night. “It took some patience, but I’m glad to finally get the call.”
The reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever is expected to be activated by the Red Sox in LA Thursday night as they close their three-game set with the Angels — the same place Bard made his major league debut three years ago.
After starting this season with a 5-6 record with a 5.24 ERA in 11 appearances — 10 of which were starts — Bard was sent down to Pawtucket to work on, well, everything. He returned to the bullpen role he dominated for the last two years, and despite his 7.03 ERA in his 31 games in Triple-A, Bard is confident he’s worked out all the kinks.
“It gave me a chance to work on some things without too much consequence in the results,” he said of his time in the minors. “I accomplished some really good things. Now I just need to get back in the competitive environment where I can focus on competing with the hitter.”
Bard On His Return To Red Sox:
“I think it was trying to morph myself into a starter too much; trying to change, throw my change-up, front door cutters, backdoor sinkers, just trying to do things I hadn’t done in the past,” Bard said of his early season struggles. “It worked some days and didn’t work other days and I kind of got too deep in it. I kind of lost the pitcher that I felt like I was the last three years. I had to kind of do what I had to do to rediscover that.”
“I took it as a challenge,” he said of his time as a starter. “I wouldn’t say that I failed. I had one really bad start and that led to me getting sent down. Up until then, I was pretty much on par with all the other guys in the rotation.”
“It was an experiment, and I chose to move forward out of the bullpen and I’m fine with that, too,” he added.
Now that he’s had some time to make the necessary adjustments, his confidence is back up to where it needs to be for a late-inning reliever.
“It’s good now,” said the 27-year-old righty. “I felt like I’ve thrown the ball well the last couple weeks. There were a couple hiccups here and there but it was more just trying to tweak something in my mechanics and carry it over into a game. But my last few have been really good; I feel like I’ve simplified my delivery to a point where I can just go out there and not think about it and focus on getting the hitter out.”
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Bard said he worked on both his physical and mental approach on the mound while with Pawtucket.
“Pitching is a combination of both. It’s just a matter of getting out there every couple of days and getting better every day,” said Bard. “It’s a constant process to get better, and when you do feel better about throwing the ball it’s constant work to maintain it. I think every pitcher has their ups and downs and it’s just part of my journey.”
Bard’s role is undefined at the moment, but there is plenty of opportunity for him to earn the set-up or even closer role. Alfredo Aceves, fresh off a three-game suspension by the team, blew his eighth on Tuesday night and Andrew Bailey has just seven games under his belt after missing four-and-a-half month after undergoing thumb surgery.
“I think he’s ready to be here,” said manager Bobby Valentine, adding Bard will help the Red Sox win some games down the stretch. “He did progressively better (in Pawtucket)”
The chances are there for Bard. He’s back in the bullpen, where he belongs, and now he just has to take advantage.