Red Sox diary: Daniel Bard

March, 16, 2010
Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard is keeping a diary for this season. In this entry, he gives us some insight into spring training and the personalities of his bullpen mates. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)

This year is a lot different for me. Knowing that I'm making the team has allowed me to work on some things. I've been throwing my changeup a lot during games, and I'm really happy with how it's come along. I wouldn't be throwing it as much if I were trying to make the club. It's something I've been working on in spring training to get out lefties. Working on the changeup has helped with that.

I think last year when I couldn't throw my slider for a strike on a given day, which wasn’t too often, it allowed lefties to just sit on my fastball and it became a lot more hittable. But I could still get righties out with just the fastball. Having that changeup is another option. If I can't throw the breaking ball for a strike that day or consistently, I have that changeup, rather than just saying, "OK, here's a fastball."

Also, pitching inside to lefties is big for me. Getting the ball in on them, which is something I did last year, that hasn't changed, but it's something I can get better at. If this was last spring training, I would mostly be throwing what I consider to be my top two pitches: fastball and slider. I've been able to throw the changeup and had some success with it. Hopefully, that will translate into the season.

This year, it's nice because I'm comfortable around the guys in the clubhouse. I know my teammates now. Whereas last year, I was just the guy in the corner who wasn't supposed to talk. In that respect, it's a little different. Now I feel comfortable going to whomever is sitting next to me if I need some baseball advice. It depends on what I have a question on, though. I may go to [pitching coach] John [Farrell] or [catchers coach Gary] Tuck if it's a mechanical question. But if it's an off-the-field question or where I'm supposed to be at a certain time, I may go to Manny [Delcarmen] or Pap [Jonathan Papelbon] or whoever was around at the time, usually a fellow pitcher like [Jon] Lester or [Josh] Beckett. Wake [Tim Wakefield] might not answer my questions, though. I'm just kidding! But I don't have to ask as many questions now because most of that formality stuff I got out of the way last year.

I hear there's all this talk that we lack offensive power this year. I say, just look at the scores, and I don't think it really reflects there. We've been scoring, it seems, on a consistent basis. I'm not worried about it.

There's a lot of talent on this team. There's a lot of competition for some spots. With that competition, it's going to drive guys to play better and play to the top of their abilities. I'm not worried about it.

Defensively, we know this team is going to be solid. Having a strong defense behind us allows all of us pitchers to pitch more to contact with confidence. I know if I leave a ball down the middle and it's put into play, we've got four really solid infielders and some good guys in the outfield who can run it down, too. It just gives you confidence to pitch in the zone. I don't have to worry about making perfect pitches every time, which makes things a little easier on us.

Our bullpen is coming together. Let's get into some of my teammates I have out there in the bullpen. First, of course, Manny Delcarmen, he's laid-back and always needs a ride. I've been driving him to the park every morning. Okie [Hideki Okajima] is very serious, but he'll loosen up sometimes out there. He's a good sharer. He hooks me up with the Japanese belts and Japanese socks. They have these toe socks where the sock goes over each toe. They have some crazy gear, and he'll just hand it out like crazy. He's a good guy to know.

Pap is … I don't know, are we talking about Papelbon or Cinco Ocho? Well, Papelbon is pretty goofy, laid-back and off the wall. You'll hear everything that's on his mind with no filter. He's pretty fun and entertaining to be around. Then you've got Cinco Ocho, who is extremely intense and doesn't like to talk to people, extremely focused and a very good closer.

Ramon [Ramirez] is a good-looking guy. Best-looking Dominican I know, and he's a good throwing partner. He's my throwing partner every day. Boof Bonser is someone I'm still getting to know. He seems like a good guy but is kind of an imposing figure. He's huge and all tatted up. I didn't know quite what to think of him at first. But I've gotten to know him, and he's real laid-back and a funny guy.

John Farrell is easy to work with. He's genuinely concerned about every pitcher on his staff and even the minor league guys he deals with. You definitely see that he wants us to do well, just as much as we want to do well, and that's a good feeling to have.

What's a typical day like for me here? Every once in a while, I can get out of here by noon, which is great, but it’s pretty unusual. Usually, I get here around 8 o'clock and eat breakfast, go get stretched out by one of the trainers, head out for team stretch at 9:30, play catch for 15 or 20 minutes, then do some PFPs. That is pitcher fielding practice for those who don't know, which I'm not particularly good at, but I hold my own. So we've been doing competitions. We split up into two groups. We do 20 in a row, and whoever has the most errors has to shag that day. The other group gets to go inside. We have won it both times we've held the competition. So no shagging for me. Though, I'll admit, our wins weren’t due to me. Our coaches try to keep it fun and keep it different every day for us.

Next, I'll eat lunch and play the game at 1 o'clock. When I leave here, I've played golf a few times and gone fishing a few times. Since I just got married in January, I'm trying to enjoy spending time with the wife here, too, which has been good. We brought our dog down here also. It's a border collie mix named Bay, not named after Jason Bay. She was named that before my wife ever knew who Jason Bay was. It's been great getting used to the family life.

If we have a road game, well, that means a long bus ride, and we've had some long ones. We went three hours to Jupiter [Fla.] recently, and it rained so we rode all the way there and came right back. On the bus, I usually watch TV shows on my iPod. That day, I was watching a TV show called “Dog Bites Man.” It lasted one season on Comedy Central, but it's one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Check it out!

Opening Day, well actually, Opening Night, I probably should say, is just a few weeks away. I'm looking forward to getting settled in Boston and moving into the apartment. Day one is going to be fun opening against the Yankees. It's like getting thrown into the fire pretty quickly. It's going to be interesting. Usually they ease us in a few weeks before we play them, but not this year. That's OK; it will be fun.



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