Valentine encouraged by Bard's progression

Valentine encouraged by Bard's progression
May 13, 2012, 4:43 pm
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BOSTON -- Daniel Bard makes his sixth start of the season on Sunday. He enters the game 2-4 with a 4.83 ERA, and is coming off of two straight losses.

But Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is pleased with the progression Bard has made from the bullpen to having a regular spot in the rotation.

"He's come along nicely," said Valentine before Bard's start against the Cleveland Indians Sunday at Fenway Park. "His pitch selection is good. His pitch repertoire is good. His mound presence is good. His fielding ability is good. His ability to hold runners is good. His competitiveness is good. His endurance has been good. I think he's made the transition pretty nicely."

Valentine said that he has looked at other Major League pitchers -- and more specifically, hard throwers -- who have made the successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation, and still hasn't had a conversation with anyone about an innings count for the young righty.

"At the beginning of the year, we didn't think that there was going to be an innings count," said Valentine. "We'll have to see. That was never a conversation, really, that we've had yet."

As for the adjustments that Valentine has seen Bard make through his first five starts of his young career, the Red Sox manager pointed out that Bard has made it a point to throw more strikes.

"Last game, I saw him putting his fastball in play a lot, which is really a good thing," said Valentine. "Earlier in the season, he was throwing his slider a little harder. It had a little harder break. Now he's throwing it a little more for strikes, trying to get it over the plate a few more times."