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How Daniel Bard almost became a Mariner

05.11.10 at 4:56 am ET

On draft day in 2006, the Mariners had narrowed their decision about the fifth overall selection of the first round to two choices.

‘€œThe day before the draft [the Mariners] said they had it narrowed down to me or [Brandon] Morrow,’€ recalled Sox reliever Daniel Bard. ‘€œThey said, ‘€˜We’€™re 50-50. We’€™re split. We’€™re going to make a game-time decision, and go with who we go with.’€™ They went with him.’€

The Mariners chose Morrow, a pitcher with an explosive, high-90s fastball and a hard slider. The right-hander was in the big leagues by 2007, and over the last three years, his role endured a tug-of-war between the rotation and bullpen. While that may have been detrimental to his development, he did enjoy some success, forging an 8-12 record, 3.96 ERA and striking out more than a batter an inning.

This offseason, he was traded by Seattle to the Blue Jays in exchange for Brandon League and a prospect. Toronto committed to having Morrow in the rotation, and he carried a 2-2 record, 5.40 ERA and American League-leading 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings into his start against the Sox on Monday.

Morrow had a somewhat remarkable outing that highlighted his outstanding stuff but also his control shortcomings. He lost the strike zone and lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing six runs. At one stretch, he went nine batters and 44 pitches without a single Red Sox batter making contact, walking four and striking out four between Victor Martinez‘ run-scoring single in the first and his fielder’s choice RBI in the second.

‘€œHe’€™s got great stuff. No doubt about that,’€ said Bard. ‘€œWe were talking about it in the bullpen during the game. He just looks like a reliever. His stuff, he’€™s around the zone. He’€™s not missing terribly. You can get away with that a little more in a one-inning stint, instead of going six or seven in a start.’€

Bard, meanwhile, has gone through his own interesting career twists since the Sox took him with the 28th pick of the 2006 draft. His career nearly got derailed when he began his pro career as a starter. After his conversion to the bullpen, he became a dominant force, and on Monday, while Morrow failed, Bard turned in a strong inning of scoreless relief. He now has a 3.00 ERA this year, and an impressive 22-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings of work.

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