Daniel Bard took a step back to take what he is hoping will result in some significant steps forward.
The reliever participated in a simulated game Monday in order to work on what Red Sox manager John Farrell classified as “stride direction,” throwing 20 pitches.
Judging by Bard’s reaction to reporters after the exercise, it was the proper approach to take.
“It felt like I was on top of the ball, powering it down, the changeup was good. Stayed away from the breaking ball to focus on those two, the fastball in particular,” Bard told a media gathering at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
He added, “I think it’s just one of those things that created a bad habit last year, trying to create velocity in the wrong places, trying to reach out, trying to over-rotate. Today it felt like me, felt like the old me. Felt like there was power behind the ball, four-seamer’s pretty true. Plus some downhill plane, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Bard, who was clocked in the vicinity of 94 mph during his first two spring training starts, said he didn’t have a feel for what the velocity might have been Monday, but he did notice a difference in regards to the feel for the fastball.
“I don’t where (velocity) is. I know it feels good coming out,” said Bard, who surmised he might pitch Thursday when the Red Sox travel down the street to take on the Twins. “Even in the first two outings, just looking at hitter’s reactions on most of the fastballs, and especially today. I threw three changeups. It was pretty much all fastballs. I know [Bryce] Brentz is a good fastball hitter, to see I can actually get in on those guys a little bit and see the ball riding in on their hands is a good feeling.”
In regard to the plan going forward, Bard was measured in his response.
“Pitching’s a funny thing. It’s like you’ve never arrived. Even when things are going well, you’re working hard to maintain it and keep that feeling you have. And so I think this is just another step in that process,” he explained.”I feel really good about how the ball is coming out. We’ve got plenty of time. We’ve got a month before we break, almost. I’m not worried about where I need to be at a certain time. I know I felt good today and build on it tomorrow. Wherever that takes me, it takes me.”
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