Daniel Bard’s Mental Adjustments as Important as Physical Preparations in Move to Rotation

Daniel Bard's Mental Adjustments as Important as Physical Preparations in Move to RotationThe conversion from reliever to starter normally entails physical alterations. But for pitcher Daniel Bard, the foray into the Red Sox' rotation also requires its fair share of mental adjustments.

Heading into the season, the 26-year-old said he needed to prepare a pregame routine, a necessity for some starting pitchers. It strayed from Bard's past three years in the bullpen — from 2009 to 2011 –when his routine was fairly simple.

"I would've just been walking down to the bullpen five minutes before the game started with the rest of the relievers," Bard said of daily custom in recent years.

Unless manager Bobby Valentine changes his mind and slots Bard back in the bullpen, those days are over. In the meantime, he's been working on ways to pass the time before taking the mound as a starter.

"It's a totally different feeling, I haven't had it in years so," Bard said. "Just like getting to the park three hours before the game and having nothing to do for two hours, it was really weird. It's not a bad thing, it's just something you got to get used to. Every guy has their own thing."

His counterparts on the staff have provided varying examples of pregame habits.

Prior to outings, Bard said Jon Lester usually listens to music, but still chats with teammates. John Lackey, meanwhile, walks around the Red Sox clubhouse in his underwear eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

While Bard likely won't adopt the latter, he also doesn't plan to take Curt Schilling's pregame routines. When Schilling made a minor league start, Bard –– who was on the team –– noticed the hurler wouldn't speak with anyone before the game.

As he settles into his starting role, Bard will continue to feel his way through the pregame process.

"I don't think you ever quite figure out what to do with that time before a start because the biggest thing it seems like most guys try to keep their mind off the game with the exception of the time we spend going over the scouting report," Bard said. "The last thing you want to do is overthink it."

In two starts and one relief appearance this season, Bard is 1-2 with a 4.83 ERA and 13 strikeouts.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is offering 100 healthy tips to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial. Visit 100pitches.org to learn more.

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