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John Farrell: Red Sox not considering ‘drastic measures’ with Daniel Bard yet

05.16.13 at 6:30 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The reverberations of Daniel Bard‘s struggles are being felt by the Red Sox in Tampa Bay, even as the pitcher remains in Double-A Portland. Yet while his command struggles have reached a frightful extreme — on Wednesday, the right-hander walked five batters and threw two wild pitches while recording three outs, throwing just eight of his 30 pitches (27 percent) for strikes — Red Sox manager John Farrell said that the team is not yet considering removing him from Portland and either sending him to extended spring training in Fort Myers or shutting him down.

“Given what’€™s transpired not just in the last couple of outings but over a period of time, there’€™s some concern there. Any time you go out and you’€™re throwing 25 percent strikes, that’€™s a tough way to go,” said Farrell. “I know this is something that Daniel’€™s working through. He’€™s fighting through. We’€™re there to give him the best feedback that we can and encourage him along the way. He’€™s going through a pretty tough stretch right now.

“To say that it’€™s one thing and there would be a magic remedy for it, we would certainly give it to him. Yet it comes from repeating a delivery and what allows that to happen. That’€™s being in a good place mentally and confident that you’€™re going to execute a pitch in a given situation and that’€™s been elusive for him right now,” Farrell added. ‘€œWe haven’€™t gotten to that point [of having him leave Portland] yet. Each outing is discussed internally but it’€™s more about continuing to address the needs of Daniel and trying to provide him that help as best we can. We haven’€™t gotten to the point of any drastic measures one way or the other.”

Bard’s struggles became extreme after he was called up briefly to the big leagues and then sent back to Portland. Since then, he’s walked 13 batters in 3 2/3 innings spanning five appearances while throwing strikes on 34 percent of his pitches.

Still, Farrell suggested that he did not think the pitcher’s struggles were a function of his brief promotion and demotion.

“I can’€™t say that’€™s because he made two appearances for us, that it’€™s contributed to this,” Farrell said. “You also point back to spring training where there was a stretch of probably four outings in a row where this was making very good strides. It was heading in the right direction, to the point where he had a legitimate shot to make this club. And yet you would  think that would serve as a reference point and a positive one. And yet we’€™re at the point where we’€™re at now where there’€™s still got to be some rebuilding done here.’€

Bard has shown no physical issues that might explain his performance struggles. He is working regularly with Sox mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury, and continues to get what Farrell described as “candid” feedback from pitching coach Bob Kipper, with whom Bard also worked in 2008 — when he moved on from a difficult 2007 debut that featured many of the same command concerns to become a dominant reliever.

Right now, the Sox feel that the only way for Bard to find his way back to success is to pitch and confront the mental/mechanical struggle that is currently taking place.

“We’ve got to get to the point of Daniel being very candid and honest with himself, and not be deflecting some of the things that he might be feeling. Just be as bluntly honest as we can. This is something that you can’t run from,” said Farrell. “We haven’t gotten to that point of just taking the ball out of his hand and letting something just take its natural course to resolve itself. I don’t think we’re of the mindset that things are going to just turn for the sake of turning. You’re looking to do something, you’re looking to be proactive, address something with getting involved in a situation like this, and we continue to do so. I’m sure no one is more frustrated than Daniel is.”

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