Zach Stewart wasn't the only member of the Pawtucket Red Sox to head to Anahaim to face the Angels on Wednesday. Daniel Bard took the journey as well, and like will take Stewart's place on the roster following a disaster of a start that saw Stewart give up nine runs in three innings to the Halos.
Bard had something of a disaster stint in Pawtucket, striking out a batter per inning for 32 frames there, but also walking 29 while hitting 10 batters and throwing nine wild pitches. This looks even worse than his time in the bigs as a starter, since he was facing lesser competition, but if you're feeling optimistic, there are reasons to be glad he's back in the majors.
He finished things off in Pawtucket with three innings in three appearances, in which he recorded two punch outs, allowed one run, and walked zero. It's three innings, but it's a straw to grasp at. There's also how Bard has felt recently, courtesy of Brian MacPherson:
"There have been a couple of hiccups here and there, but it was more just trying to tweak something in the mechanics and carrying it into a game maybe didn't go as well as we wanted. ...
"It was like, 'OK, I've got the arm slot where I want it to be, and now let's try to get the drive with my legs right. It would take me one outing to get a feel for it, and the results might not have been great in that outing, but that's the nice thing about being down there -- you don't have to worry about it. You have to roll with the punches and trust that what you're doing is going to make you better."
Between focusing on what actually worked for Bard now that he's back in the majors and a return to the adrenaline from what Bard basically boils down to "pitching in games that matter," maybe he's got a chance to rebound. We'll have to see, though, and even if you're optimistic that the useful Bard is still in there somewhere, you'll be forgiven for needing to see it to believe it, given how his 2012 has gone.
Boston is at a time and place where they should figure out what Bard can contribute, though, as they're out of the playoff race, well under .500, and putting together the pieces for 2013. Knowing if Bard is going to be able to contribute as a major piece of a future bullpen is a good thing, and he'll get the opportunity to show where he's at, possibly starting with Thursday night's contest.