Bard ready to move on from 2012

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Bard ready to move on from 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. Daniel Bard is looking forward to the day when every bullpen session is not monitored, every pitch examined, every nuance analyzed and overanalyzed, and he can be just another reliever in the bullpen. But after his dismal foray into starting pitching last season, that day has not yet arrived.

Bard threw his first live batting practice session on Saturday. It was his third time pitching off a mound in Red Sox camp, and he was satisfied with his outing.

It felt good, Bard said after his outing. Just trying to work the kinks out. It takes a few pitches to get used to having the cages around the plate and the L-screen in front of the mound. But once you kind of settle in, it felt good.

That was a feeling that eluded Bard last year. In 11 games, 10 starts, in the first half Bard posted a record of 5-6 with a 5.24 era. It was his disastrous outing on June 3 in Toronto that signaled the death knell for his career as a starter. He went 1 23 innings, giving up five runs on one hit, a home run, and six walks, two strikeouts and two hit batters. He was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after that, his psyche badly bruised.

Bard returned to the big league team on Aug. 31, making six appearances, spanning 4 13 innings, allowing nine earned runs on eight hits, three home runs, six walks and four strikeouts.

It was frustrating, he said. Trying to do what youve done your whole life and what youve been really good at, and for some reason things just arent clicking. I dont think anybody could quite put a really good explanation on it. I think it was just a combination of things, getting in some bad habits, and I had a hard time getting out of them.

I think the best thing for me was two or three months off after the season, let those habits go away. The first time you pick up a ball in the offseason, youre relearning how to throw and find that release point anyway. So thats kind of how it is. Just starting a new season, Im excited. Im looking forward to it. The past is the past. Im going to go on how I feel on a day to day basis.

Manager John Farrell was the Sox pitching coach from 2007-10 and saw Bard make his big league debut in 2009, becoming a dominant set-up man in 2010, when Bard posted a 1.93 era with a 9.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in 73 appearances. Farrell was also satisfied with Bards outing.

Just getting consistent with his timing, Farrell said. I thought he had a good feel for his secondary pitches. Its BP. I dont want to overanalyze it too much, but repetition on the mound, seeing a hitter in the box.

The one point of emphasis that he was trying to get done was not to guide the ball. Stay aggressive even in early BP and bullpen sessions, and hes doing just that.

Bard believes hes resolved some of the issues that plagued him last season.

The balls coming out of my hand free and easy, he said. I couldnt say that for the first or the second half of last season, so thats it. Its just letting the ball come out and trusting it. So I feel good now.

And that, in itself, is a good feeling.

I know I keep repeating this, but it feels good coming out, and I couldnt even say that playing catch or throwing in the bullpen last year, he said. So to be able to do that, having a hitter in the box today, getting some reactions there, it was a good start. And once you get into some real games and really get some feedback on what the balls doing.

Farrell has noticed Bards improved confidence, too.

Consistent with the way he described what he was feeling, how he was thinking in terms of looking back on last year, and the outlook on camp, and what he was trying to get done on the mound, Farrell said. And thats pitching with that aggressiveness, pitching with that shorter-outing mentality, rather than be efficient and work deeper into games that led into potentially guiding the ball from the mound. And hes showing that. Thats the mindset that hes got here. And yet hes got to be patient. His bodys going to have to catch up with that mentality in terms of the timing in his delivery and thats what hes going through right now.

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.