Bard throws inning in simulated game

Bard throws inning in simulated game
March 4, 2013, 2:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Right-hander Daniel Bard threw a one-inning, 18-pitch simulated game Monday morning.  Bard, who has not appeared in a game since February 25th against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, threw mostly fastballs with some change-ups and sliders mixed in. His fastball velocity topped out at 92 mph, according to one radar gun.

"I felt like I was on top of the ball," said Bard. "My change-up was good. I was focusing more on the fastball."

Bard has been held out of games to work on his stride direction and length.

"It's one of the things I created a bad habit trying to create velocity in all the wrong places,” he said. “Trying to over-rotate my body. Today it felt like me. Felt like the old me. Power behind the ball. The four-seamer was pretty true thrown more on a downhill plane.”

Bard is tentatively scheduled to get back into a game on Thursday against the Twins. He feels the time away from game activity has allowed him to work on his mechanics, without worrying about scrutiny.

"We got a lot of action early, and especially myself, we were trying to pound some new mechanics," he said. "When something feels good you want to keep playing catch because it feels good. I have a bad habit of doing that and then wearing myself out. I need to use the long spring training to give myself a couple of days to rest and then work my way back way into game situations."

After his disastrous attempt at joining the starting rotation last season, which led to his demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket in June, Bard is strictly a reliever now.  Being certain of his role can make
the return to the bullpen easier.

"I think it’s easier to focus when you know what the organization wants you to do and it’s not just a hopeful experiment,” He said. “I didn't go into it with that mindset but the number of questions I got asked made me think maybe I don't have a starting job. I didn't know what to expect. This year is easier. You're coming in as a reliever. Throw the ball like you're supposed to. Things will work out like they should."
But trying to straighten out his mechanics could potentially increase the pressure on him. Bard, though, said it is just another step in the process.

"In pitching you've never arrived,” he said. “Even when you're going well you're working hard to keep that feeling you have. And so this is just another step in that process. I feel really good about how the ball is coming out. We got plenty of time. We have a month before we break. I'm not worried about where I need to be at a certain time. I felt good today and will build on that tomorrow and where ever that takes me, it takes me."

At one point, it was believed his journey would take him to the closer’s role as the replacement for Jonathan Papelbon. Bard has not closed the door on that possibility.

"I don't see any reason why that isn't a real possibility if I'm throwing the ball like I'm capable of,” he said. "A lot of that is opportunity, too. I don't think I can throw the ball much better than I did in 2010-2011. But I had an All-Star closer ahead of me and now we have (Joel) Hanrahan and (Andrew) Bailey here and they have that closer experience. It's the least of worries right now. I want to pitch meaningful innings for this team, whatever role that may be in. As for a specific role, I'm not too worried about it."