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Bard brings the heat

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  May 14, 2009 01:39 AM

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- One of the clubhouse attendants handed Daniel Bard a sock full of six baseballs when he arrived at his locker after the game. They were game balls, but Bard had no idea if they were marked, when they were thrown, if he even was the one to throw them.

No matter. His first major league appearance was out of the way, something for which he had been anxious, even though he had been loath to admit that before the game. He was met by Mike Napoli, the same hitter who had already taken Tim Wakefield deep with a three-run homer that provided the winning margin for the Angels and turned the game around.

"We knew he's a fastball hitter, but first guy I'm facing, I just kind of went with my strengths," Bard said. "Kept it away. Lucky enough that he was up there hacking."

Going through his mind, before facing Napoli were "too many things to list probably," Bard said. "I don't think I had more nerves than a normal outing, a minor league outing, but just kind of a lot going through your head. Things not even baseball related."

Enough that, apparently, Bard didn't even realize the difficulty of the situation he was facing. When he came in in the sixth inning, there were men on second and third with no outs.

"To be honest with you, I thought there was just a guy on second until the third pitch I threw," Bard said "Then I looked over and saw [Torii] Hunter on third. I hope [John] Farrell doesn't see this."

So while Bard got six outs in the game, allowing a sacrifice fly to Juan Rivera, a single to Chone Figgins, and a walk to Bobby Abreu, the at bat against Napoli was the most impressive.

"I was just kidding around with the guys," Napoli said. "He kind of blew my doors off a little bit there. Heís got pretty easy cheese. He brings it up there pretty good, pretty firm. From what I saw, he has pretty good stuff."

Napoli had prepared for a hitter that the charts said could hit 94 miles per hour to 98. On the final pitch to the catcher, Bard touched 97, his highest reading of the day. But that was on a radar gun that various members of the Sox have called slow.

"I think it might be," Napoli said. "You donít see too many people lighting up 97 on our gun. You know heís throwing pretty hard."

Told that Bard has thrown 100 miles per hour in the minors, Napoli said, "It looked that out here today."

Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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