Red Sox diary: Daniel Bard

April, 27, 2010
Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard is back with his latest diary installment. He writes on whether the number of stolen bases the Red Sox have given up this season affects him when he is on the mound and how he knows when he may not have his best stuff, welcomes a new face to the bullpen in Tim Wakefield, and gets into the playoff fever sweeping Boston (as told to Louise K. Cornetta over the weekend)

I went to the Bruins’ Game 3 against the Sabres. It was awesome! It was just my second time going. I went to one a couple years ago. It was a lot of fun. The Bruins took care of us by putting us up in one of those suites. The benefits of being a baseball player and getting that stuff never gets old. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can. It was fun. The Celtics and Bruins playoff games are always on the TV upstairs in the player's lounge here at Fenway and in the main clubhouse. I'm enjoying it even though I wouldn't say I'm a diehard Celtics or Bruins fan, but I have picked up some of their gear and definitely enjoy watching them play. On Wednesday, the Bruins won in double OT. I heard the crowd erupted when they put the final score up on the board as we were still playing. I was warming up and under that little hood in the bullpen we don't hear it as much or always see the scoreboard. Somebody did say something about it so we knew out there.

It's interesting what you hear about out in the bullpen. Whether it's the Bruins’ score or just the other day a fan told me when I was down there, for the first time this year, I'm on his fantasy team. I didn't ask whether I was doing well for his team or not. I don't really care or want to know. This year has been a little different as fans have been recognizing me a little bit more this year. I got recognized a few times walking around in Kansas City and it really caught me off guard. I mean, they were Red Sox fans who were in town. I had pitched in like every game up to that point. They'd probably seen me on TV or something, that was a little weird. I try and blend in as much as possible.

I was a little bit surprised how often I was getting into games to start the season. With the off days, my arm was handling it fine. But yes, I wouldn't have expected to be in the first four games, and six out of the first eight. I was on pace for 120 innings at one point. Hopefully that will ease off. But as long as my arm feels good, I want to be in there. I threw the changeup a few times early and had some good success with it. I haven't thrown it the last couple of outings. No reason in particular, just haven't had the right situations. I'm going to try and keep using it in game situations. I'm sure you'll see more of it in the future. I feel I've been doing good. The outing on Friday was the first time I went out and didn't feel comfortable for whatever reason. I felt a little sluggish all day. Usually when the phone rings in the bullpen, the adrenaline kicks in and I don't have anything to worry about. On Friday, for whatever reason, it just never kicked in. I carried that sluggishness to the mound with me. It's something I'm still learning. That only happened maybe a handful of times all of last year. It's a feeling as a reliever you try to avoid by having a good routine leading up to every game every day. You try and make your body feel exactly the same every time 7 o'clock hits. Sometimes stuff that is out of your control happens. You didn't get enough sleep or whatever. You just try to avoid those things as much as possible. Like I said, you try and feel the same every day.

My routine was a little off since my wife has been out of town for a few days. Let me tell you, it's hard to be a dog owner when your wife is not around. It's brutal actually. I had to get up at 10 o'clock, which is early. But then Bay [my dog] needed to get up one day at 7, so I put her outside and went back to bed. I've been taking her on like an hour to an hour-and-a-half walks because I feel badly leaving her in the house the rest of the day. Although, we've had a dog walker come and take her out as well. She even threw up one morning. I'm just glad I don't have a kid yet. I will someday, but a dog is hard enough right now.

We didn't start off the season very well against the Yankees and Rays. We had a lot of guys not playing up to their full potential all at the same time early on. It was something different every night. It was starting pitching. It was defense. It was hitting. It was the bullpen at times. Every part of this team has had its low points already. I know we can only go up. Because you look at guys' track records and they're going to come out of this. It statistically has to happen. All of the steals have not affected me, personally. I can't go out there and think about that. I'm out there trying to get the hitter out. Obviously, controlling the running game is very important. Especially in the late innings, it can win or lose a ballgame. If I'm doing my job and getting guys out at the plate, hopefully there won't be a guy on first, but if there is, me getting the hitter out is going to keep them from scoring the run rather than holding him from stealing a base. But controlling the running game is a big part of what they teach here even if it doesn't always show on the field for whatever reason. Sometimes you try and execute the pitch over being quick to the plate in certain counts and points in the game. It's not something, I don't think, that we're too worried about, me personally that is. But I am sure there are staff members who would say different.

Just because I did well starting the continued game a week ago with Tampa or anytime Jonathan Papelbon might struggle a bit, I find it pretty unbelievable how people tend to take one outing or one incident and turn it into we need to overhaul and change things. I'm not thinking like that. If starting or closing even pops into my head, it's because somebody asked me a question about it in an interview setting. It's just something you come to expect here in Boston that every little thing is going to be blown out of proportion, good or bad. Playing here has its perks and its downfalls. It's great having all the attention we get because it's special. It's something you don't experience anywhere else but maybe New York. Even then, I don't think their fans are as knowledgeable as ours. But then again, you also get scrutinized and every little thing gets blown up.

Our week seemed to change when Darnell McDonald got here. I was happy for him. He had a rough spring as far as being hurt. He had an oblique pull all spring. None of us really got to see him play. I think he had a handful of at-bats. We all knew he was a good player who had been around a long time. He had trouble kind of breaking into the big leagues. But if you can stick around that long and put up good numbers in Triple-A, you'll get your shot. Probably a little later than he what he would have liked to, but he certainly made the most of it. We're happy for him and happy that he's helped this team. So not only does he hit a game tying homer in his first game for us, he drives in the winning run and the next night hits another home run. I think Els [Jacoby Ellsbury] lost his job in center! He heard that quite a few times after that. However long he is actually here, I think he's going to be a good part of this team.

I don't know if you'd exactly say we went on a winning streak after the rough start, but we began playing better. I'd attribute that to, like I said, guys coming out of slumps and early season slow starts. Statistically it had to happen. You saw Youk [Kevin Youkilis] had a couple hits and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] had a couple hits and David [Ortiz] got his home run. I think you're going to see a lot of guys getting hot at the same time because it has to happen. Same with the pitching, some guys started a little slower than they would have liked, they're going to start getting that feel for the ball back. We'll probably see some starters go later into games and a little more consistency out of relievers, including myself. It's just one of those things you deal with early in the season. Some people take a few weeks to find that sense of consistency.

Tim Wakefield will be joining us in the bullpen after Sunday's start. I think he'll be a great addition. I don't know how happy he is about it. I can't blame him. I don’t know how he's going to take it. He's been around this game long enough though that I know he's going to make the best of it. He lives and breathes for the Red Sox. I'm sure he's going to be as helpful of an addition down there in the bullpen as he can, whatever capacity that's in. We'll be happy to take him down there and welcome him back because he was doing it long before any of us were.

We're out on the road in Toronto and then Baltimore. My favorite road city though is Texas in Arlington because it's the one place that's not in a big city. We stay kind of outside the city since the ballpark is outside of the main city. It's kind of breath of fresh air. I get claustrophobic in cities. I like Chicago because it’s a cool city to go out in. Last time, I went to the Harry Caray's restaurant and that was pretty cool. The food was good there. I try and get one day on every road trip and walk around. I'll get up in the morning or definitely an off day and walk around. I'm not checking out all the tourist sites because I don't even know what I'm doing. I'm just out there to kill time and kind of wake myself up. On the road, as far as visiting locker rooms go, the Twins new one was very nice. Since it's a new ballpark, it should be. The old Minnesota ballpark had, by far, the worst locker room. The Yankees is nice, but a little spread out. What makes them nice is clean and good food are the two big things. I don't care how old it is or how big it is, as long as I feel like it's clean and the pregame and postgame spreads are good, I'm happy. I've pitched in every American League ballpark except Oakland, which I heard is not very great to play at. I bet there are some National League parks that would definitely be cool to play at like Wrigley, St. Louis and PETCO out in San Diego. If not this year, I bet I get my chances somewhere down the road.



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