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Bard set to return to Red Sox -- and to bullpen

The SportsXchange

Regardless of the numbers, right-hander Daniel Bard believes he's prepared to return to the major leagues.

That step will come Thursday when he's recalled by the Boston Red Sox.

"I think he'll help us win some games," said manager Bobby Valentine, who characterized the reports from the minor league staff on Bard's performance as "progressively better."

Bard went 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA in 10 starts for the Red Sox, bottoming out June 3 in Toronto when he lost all command of the strike zone and allowed five runs on six walks and two hit batters in 1 2/3 innings. He was banished to Class AAA Pawtucket two days later, and before the end of June, the Red Sox had given up on using him as a starter, informing him that he would return to the bullpen, a decision with which he agreed.

Even now, though, Bard isn't ready to classify the starting experiment as a failure.

"Not at all," said Bard, who posted a 7.03 ERA and 29 walks in 32 innings for Pawtucket. "I took it as a challenge. I wouldn't say that I failed. I had one really bad start, and that led to me getting sent down. Up until then, I was pretty much on par with all the other guys in the rotation. I wouldn't say I failed. I'd say that it was what it was. It was an experiment, and I chose to move forward out of the bullpen, and I'm fine with that, too."

In transitioning back to the bullpen, Bard has attempted to simplify everything, from his mechanics to his pitch repertoire. He has gone back to throwing primarily fastballs and sliders, the two pitches that he relied on as a reliever but got away from in succumbing to the pressures of needing to be more well-rounded as a starter.

"I think I was trying to morph myself into a starter too much, trying to change, throw my changeup, front-door cutters, backdoor sinkers, just trying to do things I hadn't done in the past," Bard said Wednesday before the Red Sox's 10-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. "It worked some days and didn't work other days. I kind of lost the pitcher that I felt like I was the last three years. I had to kind of do what I had to do to rediscover that.

"You look at any video from the last three years, I was pretty much fastball-slider, attack the zone and hit it if you can. That's the mentality that I'm back to now."
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