BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard came away from his first outing of the spring satisfied, but he knows he still has plenty to prove before the real season gets underway.
Back in a relief role this year, Bard made quick work of the Northeastern Huskies in his only inning of work on Thursday. After allowing a leadoff single to Connor Lyons, Bard struck out the side. 13 of his 18 pitches went for strikes, and he said his slider helped set up his fastball.
“I’m satisfied. Not perfect obviously, but it’s a huge step in the right direction,” Bard said after the outing. “It’s always good to get out of the gate with some nice results. The focus today was just to try to be in the zone as much as possible.”
While Bard would prefer not to allow the leadoff man on come April, working with a runner on helped him focus on whoever was in the batter’s box.
“It’s huge. I didn’t do a great job holding the runner there, but that’s not my focus in the early outings. I want to get the hitter,” he explained. “But it was a good experience to have someone out there on base and work through a bit of a jam. We’ll focus on that as the spring goes on.”
Bard said he has plenty to prove after struggling last season as a starter. This spring reminds him of his first with the team four years ago.
“The last time I came into camp with something to prove was my first big league camp in ’09. I wasn’t supposed to make the team by any means, but I had a lot of people I needed to impress in my mind,” he said. “It’s not that much different this year, besides that everyone knows my name and who I am.”
“But I definitely have something to prove,” said Bard.
While Bard is likely a lock for the Boston bullpen, there is a crowded bunch of relievers down in Fort Myers that will keep the competition interesting.
“I think it’s a good problem to have as a team. We probably have 10 guys that deserve to pitch in a big league bullpen, and that obviously can’t happen,” said Bard. “For me, I’m focused on what I’m doing. If I’m throwing the ball like I’m capable of and build off today, things will take care of themselves.”