Daniel Bard Shows Mental Toughness in Friday’s Start Amid Chatter About Relief Role


Apr 27, 2012

Daniel Bard Shows Mental Toughness in Friday's Start Amid Chatter About Relief RoleThe chatter swirled around Daniel Bard all week long. After escaping a jam and recording a win in Monday's relief appearance, there were calls for the 26-year-old to resume his bullpen duties.

Instead of giving into the noise, Bard ignored it. For the second straight appearance, Bard tossed an impressive gem in Friday's 10-3 victory over the White Sox, allowing just two earned runs.

He achieved that feat in an efficient manner, lasting seven frames while eclipsing the 90-pitch mark. At one point, he retired 10 of 11 batters he faced with the exception of Paul Konerko –– who blasted career home run No. 401.

"I hadn't thought about it much," Bard told reporters in Chicago about swapping roles this week. "As a reliever, you learn to be flexible. Your arm is going to feel different every time out and you learn to adjust. I felt good today physically."

The most notable improvement Bard made was in the walks department. In his last start on April 16, he walked a career-high seven batters. Against the White Sox, he issued just one free pass, which took place in the first inning.

As a result of his strides, Bard has allowed only three runs in his past two starts to lower his ERA to 3.72. Only six White Sox batters tagged him for hits in the process.

"I loved it," manager Bobby Valentine said in Chicago. "From start to finish, he battled the elements, he battled some adversity created by the wind and by a bad hop. He came out throwing strikes, cam out very confident and very relaxed."

"All those things that could've affected him mentally. None of it did. Really impressive performance."

Bard's game illustrates a sign of commitment to a starting role in the Red Sox rotation. He wants the ball in his hands before games. When Valentine selected him for bullpen duty, Bard questioned his motives because of his steadfast desire to start.

Judging by the way he's pitching, Bard is quashing the calls for the bullpen. If he keeps it up at this rate –– he has racked up 13 strikeouts in his last two starts –– Bard is poised to reward the Red Sox brass for their trust.

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