Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'


Bard: "I'm not ready to give up on starting'

PAWTUCKET, R.I. It would have been understandable if Daniel Bard had chosen not to speak to the media after his outing Monday night. Not appreciated, but understood. After all, its not the easiest thing to go back to the minor leagues when you were formerly a lights-out pitcher (albeit, in an entirely different role) in the big leagues.

Instead, Bard, was loquacious in his answers, explaining, among other things, what he is trying to accomplish with Triple-A Pawtucket since his demotion June 7 and the decision to not start Monday night as originally planned, working out of the pen instead.

Q: How do you look at your outings here, measuring what youre trying to accomplish?
Bard: Yeah, I think the nice thing about being down here is that the wins and losses arent quite as important and you can really focus on getting the work in and kind of look at the process more than the result, which is harder to focus on when youre up there pitching for Boston. That wouldnt allow me to do that.

Q: Why the decision to not start Monday?
Bard: I just told them after that last one Friday I said that starting with the intention of going one inning just felt really strange. I mean, it felt like a very manufactured situation, didnt feel like I was really part of a baseball game. So I just told them , I said Im all good with the short stints closer together. I think thats a good way to get back on track. But I dont see, if were trying to go with more of a bullpen feel, which is kind of what they talked to me about when we get through this and then translate to starting, I said why dont we just do it out of the bullpen? So, I told them lets just do that. And they were ok with it, with the intent of doing this a few times and like I said, translating back to starting.

Q: What do you think of your outing Monday against the Gwinnett Braves?
Bard: It took me two batters I think to really get locked into an arm slot. I was a little bit low, lower than I would like on those first couple hitters and you saw some balls running away from me. And then I make the adjustment and I think pitched pretty well to those last three guys. So the nice thing is I can focus on that and say I wasnt perfect but it doesnt matter. I was locked in, I got something good to walk away with those last three hitters.

Q: What did you think of your fastball and slider?
Bard: Fastball was good, got better as the inning went on. I think a lot of it is just the level of conviction that Im throwing it with and that got better as the inning went on. So thats all I can ask, because sometimes the slider kind of locks me back in. If Im missing with the fastball, throw a couple sliders and then throw the fastball off of that. So its kind of what I did tonight.

Q: The decision to not start makes people think youll eventually be back in bullpen for the Red Sox. What are your thoughts on that?
Bard: Thats fine. People are going to think whatever they want. I think its not a secret that Ive had success out of the bullpen. I think its no secret that thats where Im most comfortable the adrenaline rush that comes with it, the added pressure of getting loose quick and everything, thats where Im comfortable. Still while we can say that, I think we still have to say Im not ready to give up on starting. I think, like I said after the Toronto outing before I even knew I was getting optioned, was that we, I think, we had changed too many things to try to become a starting pitcher rather than take the same pitcher Ive been the last three or four years and put that guy in a starting role. So I think this is a good first step in that process.

Q: How much of what youre trying to accomplish down here is related to confidence and how much is physical?
Bard: Well, I dont think, confidence is not an issue at all. I think it was I mechanically got out of whack my last I dont want to say my last few starts because I felt really good against Detroit May 29 and that wasnt that long ago. It was maybe 10 or 11, 12 days ago. So I dont think confidence is an issue. My mechanics needed to get back in check. Ill be the first to admit it and this wouldn't have been my first choice of how to fix it but thats what they decided for me and Im trying to make the best of it. So, obviously getting sent down to Triple A is a little bit of a reality check for you and you try not to let it affect your confidence because I know how good of a pitcher I am and how good I can be. So just using it as an opportunity to work on some stuff and in a lower-pressure environment.

Q: Whats next in the process?
Bard: I think well do, I dont think theres a number put on anything but probably another one or two of these type outings. Maybe go two innings if I have a quick first inning, kind of thing, just to really get that feel back. If the next two or three go really well, well look from there and see where the needs are.

Q: It would seem that a one-inning outing is like starting from square one?
Bard: Not really. I think its just, I think I could have just gone to the obviously the way the roster was set up at the time, probably could have just gone to the bullpen and gotten two or three outings in the big leagues and missed a start maybe. But we didnt have a lot of roster flexibility. Its nobodys fault. Its just how it is. So Im getting that same work in down here.

Q: How is that different from making starts for Pawtucket?
Bard: Well I think it wasnt, it just kind of points to how its allowing me to get my delivery to where Im comfortable, where I want it to be. And if theyre sending me out there every five days for 90, 100 pitches, if it doesnt go how we want, if I dont feel the way I want to feel, then were kind of wasting five days, instead of if I went out there tonight and didnt like how I felt, then screw it, we wasted one day, 20 pitches and I come back in three days and I can try to correct it. Tonight felt good. I think it was not perfect but like I said we can focus on the process. Tonight I think it was a good step in the right direction.

His post-game session wrapped, Bard thanked the handful of writers, then wished us a good night. Gracious and loquacious.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.