Resetting Daniel Bard

The reset button has been pressed.  Everything that had gone before is no longer. Daniel Bard has been optioned to Double A Portland to reboot his pitching career.

Bard made his Sox debut at age 23 back in May 2009, pitching 2 scoreless innings of relief against the Los Angeles Angels. He’d continue to impress for most of the next two seasons, but in September of 2011 things started to go ary.

In that September Bard would give up 13 earned runs in eleven innings pitched as he and the rest of the team collapsed.

As the 2012 season beckoned the Red Sox had a starting pitching crisis and Bard threw his name into the mix, working through Spring to become the 5th starter. However, by June it was clear the experiment had been a failure and Bard would be demoted to Triple A to regain both his mechanics and confidence. He’d post a disappointing earned run average over 7.00 in 39 minor league innings but would eventually be recalled to the major league team at the end of August.  The results would not be pretty.

The appointment of former pitching coach John Farrell as manager instilled hope that the entire pitching staff, which had become somewhat lacklustre since he departed to manage the Blue Jays, would be reinvigorated.

Also added to the mix was new pitching coach Juan Nieves, the only Milwaukee Brewer to throw a no-hitter, who joined from the Chicago White Sox where he’d served as bullpen coach for five seasons.

Farrell and Nieves watched over Bard throughout Spring, where he would once again focus on returning to a relief pitching role.  Ultimately they decided that he wasn’t close enough to regaining consistent repetition of his mechanics, so Bard will start the year in Portland, Nieves said he took the news well saying “Consistency is going to be very important. Not only from the performance itself, but his consistency also with his delivery. We want him to understand that there is a process.” and “He knows he’s not where he wants to be, but he knows where we’re going with it”.

This is a positive move by the Red Sox, it’s clear that Bard can pitch much more effectively than he’s shown recently, resetting his and our expectations is the right move and going to Portland dims the spotlight that has been brightly burning down on Bard in recent times. The Major League bullpen is already strong and there is no need to rush Bard back.  If he returns to doing what he’s shown before, he’ll be a very valuable late inning pitcher again, a sentiment echoed by Nieves who said “If he’s healthy, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t come back and be the guy that we always have seen.”


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