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Bard makes successful return to Boston's bullpen

Bard makes successful return to Boston's bullpen

BOSTON -- It was Daniel Bard's first Major League appearance since Sept. 28, 2012, and just his third scoreless appearance since 2011.

He didn't walk anyone, either.

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Bard entered Thursday's 7-2 win against the Astros with a five-run lead in the ninth inning. There was little pressure in the game, but the right-hander said he was still feeling the adrenaline.

Bard pumped his fastball up to 96 mph, flashed a sharp slider and cruised through a scoreless inning on 18 pitches, 10 of which went for strikes.

"It was nice being able to go out there and compete, having a delivery I could trust and go out there and give the batter my best stuff," said Bard, who had a 4.00 ERA in nine innings with Double-A Portland before his promotion. "That's what we did tonight. It wasn't perfect, but I made some good adjustments pitch to pitch and let the stuff play around the zone."

Manager John Farrell said he doesn't expect Bard to work in any late-game or close-game situations just yet, but Farrell was impressed with what he saw on Thursday.

"Aggressive," Farrell said. "Attacked the strike zone -- and [umpire] Tim McClelland notoriously has a pretty tight strike zone -- but he looked free and easy, looked confident, and that was a good inning of work and a very encouraging one. We continue to get consistency out of him, what it can add to the overall depth of those guys in the 'pen. That was a good inning of work tonight."

If Bard can throw consistent strikes, which he failed to do last year, making just two appearances all season in which he didn't walk a batter, the Red Sox could benefit from another power arm in their already-solid bullpen.

"He looked real good," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "Back to 94-96 [mph], power sinker in to righties, good four-seamer to lefties. That was the main thing I wanted to do. I wanted to call some fastballs and get that comfort of getting that over the plate. Slider was sharp, just kind of started it down and away and kept going. It's something to build off of, and that's huge."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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