ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Even as the Red Sox celebrated their 9-2 victory on Wednesday night, there was a disconcerting development elsewhere in the organization. Daniel Bard had a dreadful outing in Double-A Portland, walking five batters and throwing just eight of 30 pitches for strikes, the latest episode in what has become a progressively worse struggle to find the strike zone.
Bard threw strikes on just 27 percent of his pitches on Wednesday, his worst percentage of any outing in the last two years. In five appearances since returning to Double-A after a brief promotion to the big leagues, Bard has now thrown strikes on just 34 percent of his pitches. He’s walked 13 in 3 2/3 innings.
Word of the most recent derailment took little time to reach Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves.
“I’m concerned over, of course, how he’s doing mentally,” said Nieves. “You’re always concerned about a guy’s mental state when he’s engaged in an at-bat and doesn’t do well. It continues to be the same thing.”
That Bard has seen his performance take such a frightful turn in such a short period of time is somewhat stunning. When he was called up to the big leagues at the end of April, team officials thought there was a chance that he could pitch his way back into a regular role in the bullpen. Now, it would be difficult to imagine Bard seeming more distant from a return to the big leagues.
But Nieves suggested that the idea that Bard’s performance has not been on a steady upward trajectory is not unexpected, given his struggles of a year ago.
“It was never going to be a quick fix with him, because of the residue of everything that has happened through a whole year of battle. It’s going to take some time,” he said. “I think the strength is there, the arm strength is there, it’s a matter of him buying into it and creating some consistency. You know what it comes down to? Him not thinking about hitters or anything like that, just hit the glove, hit the glove, hit the glove. Let the stuff play. His stuff is too unbelievable to be turned off, or to be aware of, oh my God I’m going to get hit, except he’s not getting hit, because he’s walking guys.”
The Sox had remained committed to keeping Bard on a regular schedule in Portland. His outing on Wednesday came with three days off. Alterations to his plan in the minors — whether to the venue where he’s pitching or the way the team approaches his scheduled outings or … something now seems inevitable.
“We’ll have to look into the next step and we’ll have another plan for him,” said the Sox pitching coach. “Staying the course, but we might add some things. We’ll get together and talk about it and I’m sure there’s going to be a conference call. We’ll talk about it.”
One thing that Nieves made clear is that he did not see value in having Bard shut down for a stretch of time. That, the pitching coach believed, would be counterproductive in the effort to get the pitcher back on track in his career.
“Backing off, I never want to back off a guy. He’s not that type of guy,” said Nieves. “He’s the kind of guy, throw your stuff over the plate and it will play.”
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.
Mut is flying solo the last hour, but he's giving reaction and analysis as the Celtics draft a power forward out of France by the name of Guerschon Yabusele and getting some early grades for the Celtics
Mut and Kirk are talking more about the Celtics pick of Jaylen Brown and can't seem to find anyone who thinks it's a good pick or can make a case for why the Celtics took him third overall.
Christian recaps the Red Sox 6-2 loss to the Rangers.
Joe, Tim, and Lou talk with Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts after his walk-off RBI single propelled the Red Sox past the White Sox 8-7.
Mut recaps the Red Sox 8-6 loss to the White Sox.
John, Gerry and Kirk open the show Monday discussing the Red Sox slide, as well as WEEI.com beat writer Rob Bradford electing to go to a Texas waterpark by himself.
A conversation about OJ Simpson still being in the Hall of Fame and Peter King's desire to keep character concerns out of HOF voting spurns a discussion about Darren Sharper and others who Minihane wants banned for life from the Hall.
It's quite the Sporty R. McKenzie 8am hour as the guys muscle through Red Sox trade possibilities.
OMF looks at the possibilities for Free Agency, specifically reports out of Canada about the possibility of Steven Stamkos and the Bruins.
We should be closing in on a Deflategate ruling soon, James Harrison will talk PED's on his terms, and $10,000 bongs?
Glenn has an Exclusive BBQ, and Lou whines about Friday's whines
We discuss the reports that Boston is on the short list of cities for both Kevin Durant in the NBA and Steven Stamkos in the NHL to potentially end up in. The chances aren't great but we discuss them and dream about it.
What was meant to be just a small portion of our show exploded in to a huge topic as we comment on and take your reaction to Ray Bourque's DUI arrest this past weekend, and the news that his BAC was 3 times the legal limit.
Boston has had enough of Clay Buchholz, but who else ran out of excuses here through the years?
Former Celtics General Manager Jan Volk joins Kirk Minihane for a discussion that any Celtics fan will love. Kirk and Jan talk about the legendary 85/86 Celtics and how the team was constructed and of course the decision to draft Len Bias and his tragic death.
Kirk Minihane sits down with John Tomase to talk about the current political landscape, John's desire to write about social issues, and of course Spygate is discussed.
Kirk Minihane is joined by one of his radio heroes, Artie Lange. They discuss everything from Artie's comedy career, his time with Howard Stern, his issues with drugs and prostitutes, and the comedy show to benefit slain Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr.
Ben, Russ & Alex recap the 4-0 loss the USMNT suffered to Argentina in the COPA America Centenario semifinal. Then they catch up with the EURO's, and recap if their predicted winners are still in the tournament.
This week we look back at the US Open.
Dale Holley and Thornton talk NBA draft.More from this show
It's quite the Sporty R. McKenzie 8am hour as the guys muscle through Red Sox trade possibilities.More from this show
Gerry Callahan has been invited to Donald Trump's upcoming Wednesday fundraiser. Should he go? Is Trump in trouble per the latest polls?More from this show
Kirk Minihane's Monday 'Headlines' including Bill Clinton's jogging list, Pope Francis apologizing in Italian, and Ray Bourque's DWI apologyMore from this show
Arcand talks about the Sox and their recent struggles on the mound while previewing the Sox/Rangers rubber match today. He also gets into the Celtics and their future.More from this show