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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

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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