Bard pitches relief inning in big league return

Bard pitches relief inning in big league return

Bard pitches relief inning in big league return
OAKLAND -- Daniel Bard's first outing for the Red Sox in nearly three months brought one home run, one pitch to the backstop, and nonetheless, progress.

"It was good, I felt really comfortable out there," said Bard, who pitched the sixth inning Friday night in a 20-2 bludgeoning by the A's. "The adrenaline was there, a lot more than it has been."

Last in a big league game on June 3, the right-hander came on to begin the frame and surrendered one run on two hits with no walks or strikeouts. He threw 18 pitches, 10 for strikes, and his fastball topped out at 93 mph.

The home run came on a 3-1 fastball to George Kottaras, who saw only fastballs from Bard.

"It wasn't the eighth inning with a one-run lead, but it's a lot bigger stage than what I've pitched on the last couple of months," Bard said. "It was fun, I felt comfortable out there, I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be but I haven't pitched in four days, but it was good to be back out there."

Bard still gave up fewer runs than all but two of the Red Sox's seven pitchers as the ball jumped out of Oakland Coliseum. Manager Bobby Valentine called the outing "a good first step."

Bard threw a combined five sliders and three changeups to the six batters he faced. His first slider, also his second pitch of the night, went to the backstop.

Bard, who is 5-6 with a 5.30 ERA in 12 appearances this season, was optioned to Triple-A on June 5 following a shaky stint in the starting rotation and he continued to be inconsistent as a starter in the Minors. Friday was just his second Major League outing in relief this season.

"I feel like I worked really hard just to get back here," said Bard, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket after being removed from the Major League rotation. "Everything's not perfect, it's not where I wanted but I definitely made big steps in the right direction, so just try to continue that for the next month. I know I have to prove some things to some people, and I'm ready to do that."