Daniel Bard hit the wall hard late in his rookie season, posting an ERA above six in August and September. According to The Boston Herald, Bard will use spring training to avoid last year's downfalls and be a key contributor in the Red Sox bullpen.
Bard was relatively unknown when camp opened in 2009, but after the right-hander pitched well, people started paying attention.
"I noticed after my first, second or third outing that I had a bunch of media around me at my locker, and I didn't see it really around anyone else that much," Bard told the Herald. "You throw a couple scoreless innings, people take notice. It was nice."
Bard sees this season as an potential opportunity to be the Red Sox' eighth inning setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon. However, Bard needs to improve his road numbers along with his performance against left-handed hitters to be a consistent, reliable option in the bullpen.
Bard posted a 1.46 ERA at Fenway Park last season, but had a 5.84 ERA away from Boston. The right-hander makes no excuses for his performance.
"Some people said I got tired," Bard said. "I felt great, my velocity was the same as the beginning of the year."
Left-handed hitters proved to be the Bard's Achilles' heel in 2009, putting up an .866 OPS against the 24-year-old reliever. Bard is confident that won't be the case in 2010.
"I can improve consistency against left-handers," Bard said. "That was the big thing that got me in trouble last year, some left-handed power guys, if I didn't have my breaking ball on a given day, they were able to sit on my fastball."
Bard will make the most of his spring training appearances in the hope that his performance will carry over into the regular season.