Command issues follow Bard to Triple-A

Command issues follow Bard to Triple-A

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- It wasn't the start Daniel Bard or the Red Sox were hoping for.

Making his first start with Triple-A Pawtucket since being optioned to the Minors to work on his mechanics, Bard struggled in his only inning vs. Indianapolis on Friday night.

The converted reliever hit the first batter he faced with his second pitch, a 95-mph fastball. Next, Bard allowed a bloop single to right and then hit Sterling Marte with a 94-mph heater.

Bard also struggled with his command in his last start in the Majors, walking six and hitting two batters in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday in Toronto. On Friday, it was more of the same.

The right-hander never really looked comfortable on the mound. Bard struck out Yamaico Navarro on four pitches after an RBI groundout. But he gave up a two-run double to Jeff Larish before striking out Brandon Boggs to end the inning.

"The best thing about throwing down here is you can kind of ignore the results and not worry about wins and losses as much," Bard said. "[I was] trying some tweaks mechanically, and I think it was really good on some pitches -- and that's what I was looking for, to get that feel. I didn't expect it to be perfect on every pitch. The pitches it felt good on did what they were supposed to and went where they were supposed to [go]."

Bard was scheduled to pitch just one inning Friday as part of the Red Sox's plan to get the first-year starter back on track.

"It was a tough situation, it's such a weird outing," Bard said. "You prepare as [if it's] a start, but knowing you're only going one inning you try to block that out. It's a little bit of a weird mentality."

In his lone inning, Bard allowed three runs on two hits, struck out two and hit two batters. He threw 25 pitches (16 strikes) and reached 96 mph on his fastball.

"I don't want to look too much into results and more how it felt," Bard said. "Just go out there and work on the mechanical side and get in the mindset of being more aggressive in the zone."

Bard is scheduled to start again on Monday vs. Gwinnett (Braves).

"I think I might go two [innings], I told them I could do this out of the bullpen, and they wanted to keep doing it starting and keep that routine in place, we'll talk about it [Saturday]," he said.

The Red Sox optioned Bard to the Minors on Tuesday. He went 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA, 34 walks and 37 strikeouts in 55 innings over 11 appearances with Boston, including 10 starts. His WHIP was 1.62.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine thinks Bard has been adversely affected by too many voices in his ear during his first season as a starter.

"I'll go by other people's eyes, ears and I'll try to stay in communication," Valentine said. "But the one thing from Spring Training, from the winter time that I heard with Daniel is that we didn't want too many voices. We didn't want there to be confusion. In our last talk, we tried to narrow it down to who it is that he'd be working with."

Triple-A pitching coach Rich Sauveur will be the point man for Bard during his time in Pawtucket.

The Red Sox want to see Bard bring the same mentality he had as a reliever into his starts. Part of that is keeping the velocity up on his fastball, which he's struggled with as a starter.

"I think what we're trying to do is get some of that power back and direction, and I think they really go hand in hand," Bard said. "Using my lower body and getting everything going toward the target with some power, and typically that keeps everything on line. The command and velocity will kind of come together."