2013 Red Sox spring training stream
Daniel Bard is happy to have a manager he 'can trust'
FORT MYERS -- Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard threw live batting practice on Saturday. After the session, Bard said he is ready to put last season's disappointments behind him and get back to the success he had prior to the disastrous 2012 campaign.
"It felt good," Bard said regarding his throwing session. "Just trying to work the kinks out. It takes a few pitches to get used to the having the cages and the L-screen in front but once you kind of settle in, it felt good... I threw all my pitches. The focus was on being in the strike zone as much as possible, trying to be down with everything. Toward the end, second half, I was pretty pleased and felt like I accomplished most of those goals."
Bard feels he's resolved the issues that caused his poor performance last season when he went 5-6 with a whopping 6.22 ERA, beginning the season as a starter, then demoted to Pawtucket after an infamous outing in Toronto, followed by a lackluster return to the bullpen from Aug. 31 on. Bard said the ball is now coming out of his hand "free and easy," something he could not say was happening during the first or second half of last season.
As far as the reasons why things went south last year, Bard said he got into some bad habits that were hard to break during the season.
"It's frustrating," he said. "You're trying to do what you've done your whole life and what you've been really good at and for some reason, things just aren't clicking. I don't think anybody could quite put a good explanation on it but I think it was just a combination of things, getting in some bad habits, and having a hard time getting out of them."
Time heals all wounds as they say, and that holds true for Bard.
"I think the best thing for me was 2-3 months off, let those habits kind of go away," Bard said. "First time you pick up a ball in the offseason, you're re-learning how to throw and find that release point anyway, so that's kind of just how it felt, starting a new season and I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it. The past is the past and I'm going to go off how I feel on a day-to-day basis, and today I felt really good."
Bard talked about his mindset coming into spring training.
"I know I have something to prove but at the same time I feel really good," he said. "I don't know if I'm throwing the ball the way I'm capable of and the way that I feel like I have been but things will take care of themselves. I try not to be too results oriented. Just focus on what I have to do today. That's how I took it today."
Bard may have taken a not-so-thinly-veiled shot at former manager Bobby Valentine when asked about pitching for new manager and former pitching coach John Farrell.
"The biggest thing is having a guy who's seen me when I'm at my best, knows what I look like out on the mound when things are going well so he knows what to look for," Bard said. "I don't' think there's any magic thing that he's going to be able to say or do, just having a familiar face is nice... having a guy who I feel like I can trust, who's going to be honest with me, those are all good things."
Farrell spoke about his plan for Bard as well today.
"The one point of emphasis he is trying to get down is not to guide the ball," Farrell said. "Stay aggressive, and he's doing just that... again, it's BP and I don't want to overanalyze it too much. We want to be careful not to jump too early. This is the third time he's been on a mound since we've opened up camp. We'll get a better read once we get into games."
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington also weighed in on the hard throwing reliever.
"One of the things we've talked to Daniel about is let's not make this a story every day," Cherington said. "He's a healthy pitcher getting ready for the season. We understand that, with what happened last year, he's of interest. But there's a lot of other guys just like him trying to get ready for the season."