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.