Bard has been with Triple-A Pawtucket since he was demoted on June 7 after a slew of rough outings as a member of the Red Sox rotation. Sitting in the visiting clubhouse before the Futures at Fenway game, the right-hander reflected on his two-plus months of inconsistency in the Minors.
"Frustrating is a good way to describe it," said Bard, who's 2-2 with a 7.45 ERA in 28 appearances for Pawtucket. "But at the same time, if I have a bad outing I think about it for that night and wake up the next morning and try to learn from it and move on."
There have been plenty of bad outings for Bard since he went to the Minors to work on his mechanics and rediscover the success he had in the past as a reliever.
"If he was doing what everyone wanted him to do overnight and flip the switch he'd be up here [with the Red Sox]," PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler said. "But he's doing OK, he's down in the zone, he's around the plate. He's still a work in progress. It's improvement, it's slow."
Bard did not pitch on Saturday. He allowed three runs on one hit with two walks in an inning on Aug. 16 to lose his second straight decision. He issued four walks on Aug. 14, a season-high. In 29 innings, the former Red Sox rookie of the year has walked 29 against 30 strikeouts.
He's still trying to regain the delivery and mechanics that helped him become a dominant reliever from 2009-11.
"I've been looking at a lot of video and trying to work hard to repeat that and get as close to that delivery as possible but things change, my body has changed," Bard said. "I think I've had it a few times, it's just a matter of keeping it consistently outing to outing and pitch to pitch. The talent is still there."
Yes, the talent is there. Bard had a string of three scoreless innings from July 23-29. But just when he thinks he's found something, Bard has a tendency to regress. He's allowed at least one run in six of his last seven outings following that scoreless stretch.
"I think that's kind of what's gotten me in trouble," Bard said. "I have three or four outings in a row and I go, 'OK, I've arrived, I'm back.' And maybe when I get that feeling I try to go out and do something better the next outing and that's usually what's kind of gotten me in trouble a couple of times."
Still, Bard is likely to rejoin the Red Sox when rosters expand in September.
"I'd be surprised if I wasn't [called up]. I know the results haven't been what I want but, ultimately, I think that's where I belong," Bard said. "Just getting in that environment is going to instantly make me a better pitcher."