FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For those who had been concerned about Daniel Bard -- his pitching ability, his roster spot, his role, his emotional status -- Thursday’s one-inning stint against the Twins may alleviate some anxiety.
Bard had not pitched in game since Feb. 25 against the Rays in Port Charlotte. In that game, he went one inning, facing four batters. Although he did not allow a run or a hit and had one strikeout, he also walked a batter and hit another.
Since then, he’s been working on the side and in a simulated game on his mechanics, specifically his stride direction and length. It paid off Thursday. Facing three batters, he recorded three strikeouts -- Edwin Escobar swinging, and Jeff Clement and Brandon Boggs looking.
“Very encouraging,” said manager John Farrell. “He’s taken the work that he’s done on the side and in the [simulated] game into today. He stayed behind a lot of fastballs. Improved command, improved velocity. A very good day for him.
“I think he was probably 95-97 [mph], which might be the best velocity he’s shown in a little over a year. But I think setting aside the velocity, just the way he repeated his delivery was the most important thing.
“When he gets in a little bit of a rut, he’ll pull some fastballs. but they were true thru the lanes that he was intending. So he went out and repeated in game setting what he’s been working on.”
Bard will now be on a regular work schedule, in a game in two or three days, Farrell said.
“I think, most importantly, he should take away from today, a lot of quality fastball strikes,” Farrell said.