Thursday, March 5, 2009

Watch out for Bard, too

Former first-round draft pick Daniel Bard just struck out future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez on a 99-mile-an-hour fastball, just the latest in a series of impressive moments at spring training for one of the Red Sox's top pitching prospects. (He later induced a harmless pop-up from Bernie Williams, another guy whose baseball card he owned growing up.)

"They're on the downslope of their careers, so I hope I can get them out," said Bard in the sort of voice where you couldn't quite tell if he was joking or not.

Others weren't so dismissive.

"That was worth showing up (for) today," Terry Francona said. "That was two really exciting innings. With young players, and young pitching in particular, you're going to see some ups, some downs and some in-betweens. Today was the up. He threw his fastball, breaking ball. ... That was exciting to watch. His angle on his fastball was tremendous. He threw the heck out of the ball. ...

"He's driving the ball down in the zone with really good velocity -- and not a lot of effort to get that velocity. That's exciting."

Said catcher Mark Wagner, who caught Bard at Double-A Portland last year, "Ninety-eight to 100 miles an hour with movement? It's, 'Good luck, batter. Good luck.' He's going to be something special."

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