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Daniel Bard: ‘Today it felt like it kind of clicked a little more for me’

03.07.13 at 4:03 pm ET
By

Daniel Bard (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The time off evidently did Daniel Bard a world of good.

The reliever struck out all three Minnesota batters he faced Thursday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, throwing a fastball that topped out at 97 mph. This after Bard skipped his last scheduled appearance to work on mechanics, while also throwing a 20-pitch simulated game.

“It felt good. The last week, playing catch and not throwing in a game has been good for me,” said Bard, who was pitching for the third time in game action this spring. “I was pleased with the first two times but I knew I could do better. Mechanically, I knew something needed to click and I watched some video after the Tampa Bay outing and just saw something that was an easy fix. I just wasn’t getting my hand on top of the ball. Everything else I liked of what I saw. The lower-half was working right. Today it felt like it kind of clicked a little more for me.”

Bard’s fastball sat at between 94-97 mph, with his fifth pitch of the appearance (to Minnesota’s Jeff Clement) hitting a velocity (97 mph) he hadn’t touched since last April. Besides Clement, the other two Twins hitters to go down Eduardo Escobar and Brandon Boggs.

While the reliever only a few sliders, the off-speed pitch was getting noticeable uncomfortable reactions from the Minnesota hitters. His final pitch, a 94 mph fastball, got a late swing (and miss) from Boggs.

“I don’t know what my velocity was, but it felt as good as it’s felt in a long time coming out,” said Bard, who said he was “locked in” during the bullpen session leading up to the appearance in the sixth inning. “There’s finishing on the ball. It’s got some late life to it. Some late swings. It’s a good feeling to get those reactions.

“That’s what spring training is all about. Not only getting ready, but getting mentally ready. It’s nice to have some of these to get the confidence rolling and build on it every time out.”

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