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Daniel Bard: ‘Right now, I’m a starter’

04.09.12 at 7:47 pm ET
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TORONTO — The talking wouldn’t begin until the image on the television had run its course. That image just happened to be Jonathan Papelbon finishing off a game for the Phillies. It seemed the perfect backdrop for an interview with Daniel Bard, the pitcher who some think should have replaced the pitcher on the TV, but instead will make his major league debut as a starting pitcher Tuesday.

For months, the debate has raged on whether or not Bard should be a starter or a reliever. But, for the time being, the question is moot because, until further notice, the righty is firmly entrenched in the world of starting.

“I know I’m going to get that start and I’m they’re going to hand me the ball tomorrow, no matter what,” Bard said. “Until I’m approached by the coaching staff or whomever it is, I’m not expecting it to happen, if it does we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

The talk about what role Bard should serve in has only intensified the last few days, thanks to two significant implosions by the Red Sox bullpen in Detroit. That, he said, is of no consequence heading into Tuesday.

“It’€™s not for me to decide. Right now I’€™m a starter, and I’€™ll try to be the best one I can be,” the pitcher said.

As for other aspects of how Bard is approaching his start …

(The rhythm of being a starter)

“It’s been good. It’s a lot less stressful. It’s a lot easier to sleep at night, just pitching the eighth inning of a game, you warm-up and you get that adrenaline flowing at 10:30 at night it makes going to sleep a lot harder. In that respect it’s been nice. I’ve just tried to use the rest to my advantage. .. I’m dead serious. It’s just a physical thing. When you have adrenaline pumping that late at night it’s hard to fall asleep before one.”

(On approaching a lineup)

“It’s a little different. Knowing I would only have to get guys out once I would just find one hole and exploit that, whereas getting them out two or three times you kind of have to have two or three options to go to. That’s the only difference. A little more research I guess.

“I would try and get a broad overview of the lineup earlier in the game, but as we got closer I would try and figure out who I would be matching up against and do a last minute cram on those three or four guys. At the same time you could look before every inning. Here’s the three or four guys I’m going to face in this inning and have a mental image in your head how you’re going to approach those guys.”

(On the confidence he has in being a starter)

‘€œNo, it’€™s something I always thought I could do, once I proved to myself I could consistently get hitters out at this level. If the team ever had a need, I would present it with the idea. That’€™s kind of what happened. We had three starters going into the offseason, so I brought it up to Ben [Cherington], and that’€™s how we got here.”

(Strategy used as a starter)

‘€œI think it’€™s the mentality. The way you attack hitters is a lot different pitching in the eighth inning with a lead versus starting. When you’€™re pitching late in the game, teams are trying to pose a comeback against you, you pretty much have to get sreike one, then you can pitch around the edges of the zone and get a lot of swings. Guys are going to be aggressive right from the get-go. Guys want to hit that go-ahead homer, and you use that to your advantage. Whereas starting, I’ve learned pretty quickly you need to be in the zone a lot. They’€™ll give you a whole at-bat, they might take the first three or four pitches against you just to see what you’€™ve got, and you’€™ve got to take advantage of that. Just be in the zone and get ahead. That’€™s the biggest adjustment. The more I’€™m in the zone early in the count, the better I’€™m going to be.”

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