Valentine: Bard still making adjustments to delivery

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Valentine: Bard still making adjustments to delivery

BOSTON In his last outing on May 23 in Baltimore, Daniel Bard earned the win despite saying later he didnt quite feel right on the mound. Bard went just 5 13 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts and a home run.

He left with a three-run lead in the Sox eventual 6-5 win, after 90 pitches (49 strikes) improving his record to 4-5, lowering his ERA to 4.69.

Manager Bobby Valentine is confident Bard made the necessary adjustments in his side work to be more comfortable.

He said after his last bullpen he felt like himself on the mound so Im hoping that there was that little something that he needed and hope he found it, said Valentine. My only comment has been that he always seems like hes a half a beat off in his delivery and if he found that half beat it might be a real good thing.

Valentine knew there would be adjustments for Bard, as the right-hander continues his conversion from reliever to starter.

But, I didn't think it would be a throwing thing, Valentine said. I thought it would be a process, a game situation adjustment that he would have to make but its been a little bit more of a throwing thing.

Bard has been using a modified delivery, almost a hybrid between a wind-up and the stretch. Its part of the adjustment process.

Just advancing it forward with him feeling right, on time about advancing it forward, Valentine said. It seems like thats the thing he always did effortlessly.

Although it is still early in the season, some of Bards numbers are off significantly from last year. His walks-and-this-per innings pitched ratio is up from 0.959 to 1.563, hits per nine innings ratio is up from 5.7 to 8.6, strikeouts per nine are down from 9.1 to 5.3, walks per nine are up from 3.0 to 5.4, and strikeouts to walks are down from 3.08 to 0.97. Meanwhile, the velocity on all his pitches is down, including fastball velocity, from 97.3 mph to 93.2.

Some of those changes are not unexpected, though.

He can pitch effectively, but, again, is it him? Valentine said. You want someone to feel good about themselves and I think he feels good about himself when he can throw the ball fast when he wants to. Otherwise hes something other than what he might be thinking of himself. Im not speaking for Daniel now. I am speaking as an observer and a coach, manager and I think thats the one key that he needs. He needs to say, OK, Ive figured this stuff out. I can hold runners and field bunts and I can get through the sixth inning and la di da di da di da. Not, Ive got to be me and part of that me is throwing the ball by people at times.

Bard is scheduled to make his first career start against the Tigers on Tuesday. He has faced them six times in his career, the last on May 27, 2011, when he pitched a perfect inning. Overall, he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, giving up five runs, two earned in 6.0 innings against the Tigers. He has held them to a .174 team average (4-for-23), giving up two home runs with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

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Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

Acquiring pitchers who stay healthy hasn’t been the easiest for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski since he got to Boston.

The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, seem to be having success taking pitchers with prior injury concerns and revitalizing them.

Righty Andrew Cashner has been on the disabled list seven times. The first was for a rotator cuff strain. Elbow, shoulder, biceps, it’s all there on his body’s rap sheet. He has a 3.18 ERA.

Another Rangers starter, A.J. Griffin, has been to the DL six times. He doesn’t have the best ERA at the moment, 5.02, but he is in the rotation. 

Tyson Ross, who has great upside if healthy, is getting close to a return to the big leagues on a minor league rehab assignment. He's coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

It’s been a catchphrase for major league executives: the medical arena is where the most valuable advances will come now that advanced on-field statistics are so readily available.

Have the Rangers figured something out more broadly, or are Cashner, Griffin and Ross just case-by-case discussions?

Rangers president Jon Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast. 

“There’s some of both,” Daniels said. “I think that there are certain injuries, there are certain body types, there are certain medical histories that probably lend themselves to coming back more than others. But the biggest [matter] is about the individual, both the individual player and then the individuals on your medical staff and your coaching staff and how do they handle it. 

“One of the things that I’ve become so acutely aware of, whether it’s sports medicine or it’s the real world, real-life medicine, it matters dramatically. If you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, it matters dramatically which hospital you go to and which doctor you see. And so by the same token, when you’re putting a medical team together and they’re all highly qualified, and yet there’s still an enormous difference between — and not just in medical practices, but in bedside manner. Kind of the ability to communicate with the players, get the most out of them, have players trust them. Our whole medical team, top to bottom, has been a real asset for us and has helped us both recruit players and then get the most out of them when they’re on the mend.”

Daniels said his medical staff has grown in recent years. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister has a sports medicine facility that players take advantage of.

“The personnel there, the [physical therapists] there [are] really really gifted. And so we work very closely with them. We have given some, with [Yu] Darvish … we’ve been open to some different like styles of treatment.”

Daniels didn’t specify the treatments, but noted they weren’t too far out there.

“I don’t think it’s like anything crazy, and I don’t think we’re the only ones doing it,” he said. “When you’re exposed to just different mindsets, you explore it a little bit, you end up taking the best of each world and kind of incorporating it into our plan. Jamie Reed, long-time major league trainer, he’s our medical director and he gets people, he gets players and he gets sports medicine. And he’s been instrumental in putting together a lot of really good people on our medical side. When you look at some of the better medical staffs out there, Arizona and Tampa, he’s been directly involved with training some of those guys.

“Like anything else, you can have like the best ideas in the world,” Daniels continued. “If you don’t have the right people executing it, it doesn’t matter. It comes down to the people and really proud of the group we’ve got together.”