Allen Lessels' On Baseball: Bard tough to watch, tough to root against
Game days? Not so much.
"I've tried getting (ticked) at myself and that hasn't always worked out too well," he said. "It's a matter of just keeping your head down and grinding it out until something clicks."
Bard was tremendous the last time he came to town before this week.
On Wednesday he was, far, far from that.
"It was," said Richie Hebner, the Fisher Cat hitting coach and longtime baseball guy. "I'm sitting in the dugout watching him, going, 'Geez.' I don't know if want to say I'm rooting against us. But you know the guy."
You know the guy. You know the story.
Bard came through here last nearly five years ago — was it really that long ago? — on his way to Fenway Park stardom and teaming up with Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of the Red Sox bullpen.
"He was consistently 97-98 miles an hour with a wipeout slider," said an American League scout working out of the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium press box for this week's series between the Fisher Cats and Sea Dogs. "A wipeout slider: Once he throws it, it's over. You're not going to hit it."
On Wednesday, he faced eight batters and walked five of them. He threw a couple of wild pitches that went to the backstop and threw in low to mid-90s.
He came back out for the seventh and walked the first three batters and was gone.
Boston picked him late in the first round out of the University of North Carolina in 2006 and in his first year as a pro in 2007 he pitched 75 innings and gave up 76 hits and walked 78 batters.
The next year, in 73 innings, he allowed 46 hits and struck out 74 and walked 24.
Bard made the switch from reliever to starter to begin the 2012 season, the experiment failed and he hasn't been the same pitcher since.
Bard threw 30 pitches on Wednesday night and just eight of them were strikes.
His previous outing on Saturday at New Britain was no better. Twenty-nine pitches, nine of them strikes.
"I got on a good roll for little while and got called up," Bard said. "I didn't stick and got sent down and it's been a bit of a searching mode for a week or so. But in the grand scheme of things that's what it is, a week."
"He's too talented, he's working too hard and he cares," Boles said. "He wants to get back to where he was and possibly better. That's the plan we have ... Not all is lost here. He's going to work hard. This guy is going to be back on top. He's going to have the last laugh."