After Daniel Bard's six-inning outing against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Sunday -- in which he surrendered five runs on six hits while striking out five and walking three -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had praise for his pitcher.
"Overall, I liked everything," Valentine told reporters following the Blue Jays' 6-5, 10-inning win. "Had some tough breaks, I thought. Worked his way out of jams. Had some pitches that could've been called strikes, didn't let it affect him. Threw all of his pitches today. 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 think some of them could've been prevented."
Bard was equally as optimistic, having pointed out the ability to use his changeup (which he threw approximately 10 of) and two-seam fastball. This after throwing just one changeup in his last outing.
"Yeah, I think a lot of good things happened," the righty told reporters after throwing 85 pitches. "I was walking in with [catcher Kelly Shoppach] and he goes, 'How many runs did they end up getting' Five. He goes, 'It felt like two.' I said, I felt the same way. It was kind of like they kept slapping one on there every inning. Kind of just felt like I threw the ball well in each of those innings but every hit they needed kind of fell through, or the groundballs got through. I felt like they were hitting some good pitches. The funny thing about spring training games, you get some weird swings on pitches. They don’t know what they’re getting from you and sometimes you’re facing hitters you haven’t faced before. Get to two strikes, don’t know how to put a guy away because I don’t have a fresh scouting report on them, things like that. That makes for funky stuff in spring training. I’m just focusing on the way I threw the ball. I felt really good."
Bard, who allowed single runs in the second, third and fourth innings, along with two in the sixth, noted that this outing felt unlike his previous spring training outings.
"Today was the first game I can actually say I felt like a starting pitcher out there and not like a reliever starting," he said. "I used all four pitches, a steady mix of all four and then favor one and really did it and felt confident about it. I was throwing the changeup pretty consistently. I had a couple of bad ones. But for the most part, I got some big outs on it. Breaking ball kind of came and went throughout the day and two-seamer was a big pitch for me today. I threw probably 25 of them, 30 of them. I was able to work on a lot of things and take the five runs out of it, I feel pretty good."
Valentine agreed with Bard's assessment that the pitcher gave off the appearance of a starting pitcher.
"And he looked like one," said the manager when told of Bard's comments regarding feeling like a starter. "And I liked him in between innings. I liked how he was responding to things. I thought it was a really good look today. he worked runners when they were on base. He got ground balls when he needed to. Got some swings and misses when he needed to, too."
With a potential of exhibition two starts left before the Red Sox need a fourth starter, Valentine said he has not made a definitive decision regarding who will be filling that spot in the rotation.
"I haven't in my mind, no. But I think it's going to be an easy decision," he said. "It's not like we're going to be searching for pitchers to start games."
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