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Daniel Bard solves the mystery of why he only threw one changeup Tuesday

03.21.12 at 11:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Just one of Daniel Bard‘€™s 83 pitches Tuesday night was a changeup. By all accounts, it was a good one.

So good, in fact, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine went out of his way following the spring training loss to the Blue Jays saying he wished he saw more of the offering.

‘€œHe didn’€™t throw many changeups tonight I don’€™t think,’€ Valentine said. ‘€œIt didn’€™t seem from the side that there were changeups, especially that inning. He’€™s got to understand that pitch. It could really be that pitch that gets the contact when we need some soft contact situations. Kelly [Shoppach] and he haven’€™t been together that much, that’€™s a situation too that was developing as the game went on.’€

Wednesday morning, Bard explained why he took the approach he did when it came to the pitch.

‘€œI have a changeup I’€™m comfortable with. It’€™s not even an issue. It’€™s not like I’€™m developing a new pitch,’€ he said

‘€œThere’€™s always room for improvement. But I’€™m comfortable with what I’€™ve got. I’€™ve sat down and talked with [pitching coach Bob McClure] about it. I had thrown 12-13 the outing before, but at some point I have to start getting some outs and stop experimenting because that would have been 20-25 percent changeups. I’€™m not going to throw that many in the game, it’€™s just not how it’€™s going to be. I’€™m going to be about 10 percent changeups. I want that surprise factor, where if it’€™s one of 10 pitches it makes it that much more effective. It could become a higher-use pitch, but I know it’€™s there.

‘€œI wish I threw more too, but I’€™m out there to get outs and trying to establish things. That’€™s in my entire repertoire. If I’€™m not throwing my fastball or my slider in big spots, even in spring training, how am I going to go into the season with confidence in those pitches. That’€™s the way I see it.’€

Bard only threw his changeup 7.6 percent of the time in 2011, an uptick from the 6.4 percent from the season before.

And while he has felt more comfortable with the pitch this spring training than at perhaps any time of his career, he also understands that it needs to be tweaked. His changeups in ‘€™11 averaged 90 mph, which is, by his estimation, a bit too hard.

‘€œI have a grip that I’€™m very comfortable with, that I’€™ve used for most of my life and it’€™s been effective when I have thrown it the last two years. I think everybody agreed that it can be a little too hard at times,’€ he said. ‘€œIt gets up to 91, 92 [mph]. So Mac just wanted me to experiment. It’€™s not new grips, but just altering the current grip I have. A little deeper, looser, move the thumb around and some different tweaks just to see if I can take another 2-3 mph off of it.

‘€œActually the one I threw yesterday was basically my old grip and Mac told me it came out at 86, which was right where I want it. Maybe I can look back and see what I did to have that come off. I’€™m not quite sure yet, but I’€™ll look at it and try and figure it out.’€

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