9/6 Bard takes 1st step

It’s been a crazy summer for Daniel Bard, who found himself on Friday throwing a bullpen session at Wrigley Field for the Cubs, ending a week in which he’d been in four states in five days. The Cubs claimed Bard, once considered one of the best set-up pitchers in baseball, off waivers from the Red Sox. For now, he’ll work with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio on the side, which he did Friday. There is no timetable as to when he would get in a game, manager Dale Sveum said.

Bard’s session didn’t start well as he cut his thumb on the first pitch, and it started to bleed. The right side of his pant leg was stained in blood but it’s a problem that just needed a bandage, he said.

When the right-hander was designated, Bard said he was in “baseball limbo” and not sure what would happen next.

“I was ready to hit free agency this offseason, which was fine, and then this opportunity came about, and God’s plans are a little better than mine,” he said. “I was happy to hear from Theo [Epstein]. We had a good chat and talked about the plan moving forward and here I am.”

Epstein was the Red Sox GM when he selected Bard in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and is now president of baseball operations for the Cubs.

“He’s a guy who has seen me at my best, and at my worst,” Bard said of Epstein. “It’s pretty awesome to have somebody you know is on your side.”

Bard’s struggles started when he was switched from the bullpen to starting.

“I don’t think it was a bad move,” he said Friday. “We, the coaches over there and myself included, we tried to change too many things to turn me from a reliever to a starter. I could’ve just taken the pitcher I was in the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would’ve been fine.

“We tried to overhaul in Spring Training, and throw more changeups, cut the ball, sink the ball, change speeds with the fastball, things that I hadn’t done in the past,” Bard said. “It worked a few times, and I had some good starts, but it got me out of my game and it’s been a little bit of a journey here the past year and some injuries have gotten in the way as well. I’m healthy now. It’s a fresh environment to start working in is really exciting for me.”

Bard was bothered by a strained abdominal muscle, and said two months after that happened, he re-tore it in a different spot. The right-hander went about three months without pitching in a game.

– Carrie Muskat

3 Comments

Wrigley hospital is just where he belongs then. Give me a break. It’s exciting for us too. But not in the same way!

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Bard melted down before he became a starter and hasn’t been the same since. His fastball went from 98-99 to 92 in September of 2011 and his era was north of ten with 3 blown saves and almost as many walks as K’s. He hasn’t thrown anywhere close to his 98 before or after his starting role. Seems to me that he needs to recognize that and go from there or he won’t be able to fix his woes.

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