FORT MYERS, Fla – Daniel Bard felt that Tuesday's performance was a confidence-booster as a starter.
He was able to throw 83 pitches, 49 for strikes, in a 9-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in his fourth start.
Bard was confident even after manager Bobby Valentine refused to commit to Bard in the starting rotation.
"I'm not there yet,” said the manager. “I don't know if anyone is being analyzed in a vacuum. It's what the team needs, how he looks at what he's doing and how he fits into the rotation and how the people fit who can come into the game when he leaves. He's done real well. He's going to make the team."
Bard was touched up for seven runs and six hits in 2.2 innings on March 15 against the Cardinals. But he performed much better Tuesday except for a bad second inning when he allowed three runs. He retired 12 of the last 14 batters, including the last eight straight.
“I don’t expect to be handed anything,” Bard said. “After my previous outing, I wouldn’t expect him to hand me a job. He wouldn’t be doing his job if that were the case, when you got other guys throwing the ball well. I think today was a good building block and I showed them I can get through five innings in a reasonable amount of pitches. If this is a normal game, I go two more innings and we’re talking about a pretty good outing. I think it was important for me to get through five innings.
“I haven’t talked to Bobby in the past week," Bard added."He came up to me before my last outing and he asked ‘Are you all in for this. Are you committed?’ I said, ‘Yeah, until you guys tell me something different, I’m a starter in my own mind.’ Not saying that won’t ever change but that’s the way I have to think.”
Bard said for the first time he threw all of his pitches at 100 percent, including his fastball which was gunned in the mid-90s.
“Getting through five innings and 80 pitches that gives me a lot of confidence and my arm and body can handle this. I think it tells our coaching staff it’s one less thing they have to worry about,” said Bard, who said he only threw one changeup, but a few two-seam sinkers and sliders.
*Bill Belichick addressed the team before the game and watched for a few innings in the first row on the third base side.
*Andrew Miller left the game in the seventh inning with a mild left hamstring strain.
*Kelly Shoppach hit a two-run homer in the second inning after Mike Aviles doubled.
*There were 9,718 in attendance at Jet Blue Park.