Bard faces Catch-22 with changeup

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Bard faces Catch-22 with changeup

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- As Daniel Bard prepared to make his second-to-last Florida start, he faces something of a conundrum.

In his last start, Bard threw only one changeup and after the game, manager Bobby Valentine wondered why he hadn't featured the pitch more as part of his repertoire.

Bard said that he hadn't thrown more changeups because he was focused on getting better results and throwing a pitch he wasn't yet fully comfortable with would negatively impact his results as he battles for a rotation spot.

"It's a hard balance,'' acknowledged Valentine. "That's why I say that spring training is silly for all that evaluation and results dictating things. The guys who should work on pitches need to work on pitches because they're not polished. And if they get you behind in counts, which is where you don't want to be or those pitches get hit, then you're judged poorly.

"It's a weird Catch-22."

Valentine was asked how Bard would approach the Blue Jays -- the same team he faced five days ago.

"Daniel's been advised to get his work in," explained Valentine, "and do what he has to do to feel good about himself when he comes out of the game. And all the pitchers have.''

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

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Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.