DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The pitching line wasn't anything to boast about, but Daniel Bard's second-to-last outing in Florida was a success in his eyes.
Just as critically, it was the same for manager Bobby Valentine.
"I was walking in with (Kelly Shoppach)," said Bard after going six innings and allowing nine hits and five runs in what turned out to be a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. "He goes, 'How many runs did they end up getting?' I said, 'Five.' He said, 'It felt like two.' I said I feel the same away. It was kind of like they kept slapping one on in every inning.
"I felt like I threw the ball well in each of those innings, but every hit they needed kind of fell through and the ground balls got through."
If Bard sounded like he was rationalizing, Valentine echoed his thoughts later.
"Overall, I liked everything," he said. "He had some tough breaks, but he worked his way out of jams. He threw all of his pitches today. I thought his changeup at times was devastating. His slider was sharp at times.
"What was there not to like other than the five runs on the board? And I thought some of those could have been prevented."
"Today was the first game I actually felt like a starting pitcher out there and not like a reliever starting," said Bard. "I used all four pitches, a steady mix of all four. I really did it and felt confident about it . . . I was able to take a lot of things from it. Take the five runs out of it and I felt pretty about it."
Bard made a slight adjustment in his positioning for both the full windup delivery and his stretch delivering, finding consistency for both.
He still hasn't been told what he'll be doing, but he's no longer concerning himself with the uncertainty.
"For a little while, you wonder and you wonder," he said. "But I've just kind of gotten to the point where it's out of my hands. I'm going to put the work in and do the best I can right now. If that shifts to a bullpen role, I'll do the same thing.
"Like everything in life, if you can't control it, it's probably not worth worrying about."
When Valentine was asked if there was a bottom line decision on Bard coming, the manager said: "I just like what I see."
Valentine wouldn't offer a deadline on a decision on the final two spots in the rotation.
"I don't know that there's going to be any big announcements or anything," he said. "It looks like it's all coming together. No matter who's pitching, I like the pitching. I'll see how it works. I haven't (decided) in my mind. But it looks like it's going to be an easy decision (because there are a number of good candidates from which to choose).
"It's not like we're going to be searching for pitchers to start games."