FORT MYERS, Fla -- Daniel Bard, who has been working on his mechanics on the side, pitched a successful simulated game Monday where he worked on his control and threw with velocity.
“I felt like I was on top of the ball,” Bard said. “My changeup was good. I was focusing more on the fast ball.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell had said that Bard seemed to be over-striding in his delivery. And that’s one of the things that improved Monday.
“It’s one of the things I created a bad habit trying to create velocity in all the wrong places,” Bard said. “Trying to over-rotate my body. Today it felt like me. Felt like the old me. Power behind the ball. The four-seamer was pretty true with thrown more on a downhill plane.”
Bard feels the time away from game action, which he says is tentatively scheduled to resume Thursday, has been good for him to step back and work on things in a non-pressure situation. He put in a lot of work early, trying work on some new mechanics.
“When something feels good, you want to keep playing catch because it feels good,” he said. “I have a bad habit of doing that and then wearing myself out. I need to use the long spring training to give me a couple of days to rest and then work my way back into game situations.”
Asked if he felt pressure to straighten things out immediately so he can make the team, Bard said, “In pitching you’ve never arrived. Even when you’re going well you’re working hard to keep that feeling you have. And so this is just another step in that process. I feel really good about how the ball is coming out. We got plenty of time. We have a month before we break. I’m not worried about where I need to be at a certain time. I felt good today and build on it tomorrow and wherever that takes me, it takes me.”
Bard admits it’s easier to focus on his role now that he knows exactly what it is. Last season, the organization pegged him as a starter.
“I think it easier to focus when you know what the organization wants you to do and it’s not just a hopeful experiment. I didn’t go into it with that mindset but the number of questions I got asked made me think maybe I don’t have a starting job. I didn’t know what to expect. This year is easier. You’re coming in as a reliever. Throw the ball like you’re supposed to, things will work out like they should.”
He was on his way to becoming a closer. Would he want that again?
“I don’t see any reason why that isn’t a real possibility if I’m throwing the ball like I’m capable of. A lot of that is opportunity too. I don’t think I can throw the ball much better than I did in 2010-2011. But I had an All-Star closer ahead of me and now we have (Joel) Hanrahan and (Andrew) Bailey here and they have that closer experience. It’s the least of worries right now. I want to pitch meaningful innings for this team whatever role that may be in. As for a specific role, I’m not too worried about it.”