Bard's control issues big concern in Double A

Bard's control issues big concern in Double A
May 16, 2013, 7:15 pm
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Reliever Daniel Bard seems to have bottomed out at Double A Portland, and the Red Sox are unsure of what they can do get him back on track.
Pitching out of the bullpen for the Double A affiliate Wednesday night, Bard threw just eight pitches out of 30 for strikes, uncorked two wild pitches and walked five.
In his last two outings, covering an inning and two-thirds, Bard has issued nine walks. For the season, covering 12 1/3 innings, Bard has thrown eight wild pitches.
"There's some concern there," said John Farrell. "Anytime you go out and throw just 25 percent strikes, that's a tough way to go. I know this is something Daniel is working through, fighting through. We're there to give him the best feedback we can and encourage him along the way.
"But he's going through a pretty tough stretch right now."
Internally, the Red Sox think Bard's control issues are mostly mental, but are at a loss to explain the wildness.
"That's something we've been working at for quite some time," said Farrell. "To say that it's one thing and there would be a magic remedy for him -- (if we had the answer) we'd certainly give it to him. (The solution) comes from repeating the delivery and what allows that to happen is being in a good place mentally and confident that your going to execute a pitch in a given situation. That's been elusive for him."
Despite his struggles at Double A, Farrell said there are no plans in place to remove him from competition and send him to extended spring training to work on his issues away from game situations.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet," said Farrell. "Each outing is discussed internally, but it's more about continuing to address the needs of Daniel and try to provide him that help as best we can.
"We haven't gotten to the point of any drastic measures, one way or another."
In his long career, Farrell said he's never played with, coaches or managed anyone who's gone through this.
"I know Daniel went through this (in 2007) when he was sent back to extended spring to rebuild, which he did a great job with," said Farrell. "I'm sure he's as mystified as anyone that he's going through this."
Bard has been working with mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury to work on the mental part of his game, and has been reunited with pitching coach Bob Kipper, who was his first pitching coach in pro ball.
"Bob (Kipper) has handled this as best as can be expected," said Farrell. "He's very direct, very pointed. We've got to get to the point of Daniel being very candid and honest with himself and not deflecting some of the things he's feeling. (Kipper) is being as bluntly honest as he can because this is something you can't run from. You've got to meet it head on."