|Kyle Farnsworth remembers living the life of Daniel Bard||03.18.12 at 2:25 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — He’s tall like Daniel Bard. And he throws really hard like Daniel Bard. But there are more important similarities between Kyle Farnsworth and his Red Sox pitching counterpart than just their physical likenesses.
Like the Red Sox are trying to currently do with Bard now, Farnsworth was being groomed at the outset of the 2010 spring training to make the transformation from late-inning reliever to starter. And, as is currently the case with Bard, he was attempting to make the switch under the guidance of pitching coach Bob McClure.
Farnsworth only made it about four weeks into that spring with the Royals before being moved back to the bullpen, but McClure’s work left a lasting impression.
“He moved my foot on the rubber to allow myself to go more directly to the plate. It was just a minor mechanical adjustment which he worked with me on. It make a big difference,” said the current Tampa Bay closer. “He definitely knows what he’s doing, and he’s good for anybody who is willing to listen to him. He’s a really good pitching coach.
“He would watch a couple of pens and then he approached me with this idea of sliding my foot over a little bit. He wants to see how a guy’s mechanics are first before he does anything.”
Farnsworth, who came up as a starter with the Cubs in 2000, hasn’t re-entered the rotation after that test run during ’10. But that doesn’t mean he can’t offer a good perspective on the switch for a pitcher like Bard.
In fact, the brief foray into starting again may have been the springboard for Farnsworth heading into his recent run of sucecess. In ’10, Farnsworth was coming off of four straight seasons with ERAs of 4.36 or higher. In 2010, he was hit around (7.02 ERA) while being stretched out in six appearances and 16 2/3 innings as a starter. However, once the 2010 season began, Farnsworth produced his best season in years, with a 3.34 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 20 walks in 64 2/3 innings over 60 games (the last 20 of which came with the Braves following a mid-season trade).
“Probably just the stamina,” said Farnsworth when asked what the biggest challenge he faced when living the life of a starter. “Instead of trying to go out there and throw every pitch you’ve got as hard as you can, you have to pace yourself. That was probably the biggest adjustment. Instead of throwing 95 or 96 you have to learn how to be between 90-92 and throw it up there harder when you need to. I felt like I was back in my old days. I liked it. I missed starting, but whatever was best for the team. But it was fun.”
It was a transformation McClure talked about on The Big Show just after being tabbed pitching coach for the Red Sox.
“The two guys that you’ll know who we did it with both ended up in the ‘pen, but both could have started, delivery-wise, is Joaquim Soria, who we took all the way up to five innings in spring training before we started backing him off and put him in the ‘pen, but he could have started the year as a starter. There’s no question in my mind. And the other one was Kyle Farnsworth,” McClure said. “He began working on a changeup and a two-seamer, which we’d worked on at the end of the year, the year before. When he came into spring training, I think we got him all the way up to four, five innings also.
“I think it made him a better pitcher. He had more pitches. He was more comfortable with runners on. We worked on his pickoff move. We worked on holding runners. I think all of those things, combined, made him overall a better pitcher. I think it relaxed him more. I think that he had more weapons to get the hitter out with. I think the same thing will happen with Bard. He already has all the pitches.”
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