July 19, 2011
By Jon Cooper
New England knows all about the Bard family and its knack for producing quality pitchers.
Daniel Bard is in his third season coming out of the bullpen for the Boston Red Sox, where he’s pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA for the second straight season, and now younger brother, Luke, a sophomore at Georgia Tech, is doing the same for the second straight summer for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
There is a slight difference this year for Luke, as he is solely starting games.
It’s been a win-win situation for everybody.
Playing for Brewster is convenient for Bard, who has family that lives in nearby Harwich — they serve as his host family. His pitching has been good news for the Whitecaps, as they are 17-11-4, leading in the Eastern Division, and his progress in transitioning to starting has been encouraging for Georgia Tech, as another arm to potentially challenge for a spot in next season’s rotation.
Bard, who was superb in 2011 as closer, has made the adjustment to starting very well. He is 2-1 overall (two no-decisions) with a 3.07 ERA.
In his last start, on Friday, July 15, against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, he threw six shutout innings, allowing five hits, and walking two, while striking out seven. He threw 95 pitches, 59 for strikes.
In the four starts since a rocky first outing, when he allowed five earned runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, Bard has pitched to a 1.82 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 24 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 19 hits, struck out 20, while walking 13 in those starts.
Bard took some time before a recent game with the Chatham Anglers to chat with Sting Daily. He talked about a number of topics, including what he’s most actively working on this summer, what activity he’s happiest doing when he’s not playing baseball and what question he’s most frequently asked.
STING DAILY: How has your summer been so far?
Luke Bard: It’s been fun. I love it up here. It’s great competition. It’s my second year with Brewster but it’s a totally different team this year. Guys kind of get rotated in and out of here, but it’s the same coaches, same field, playing in the same places.
SD: How has this summer been different than last year?
LB: Last year, I made maybe four starts and about seven or eight relief appearances. So far this summer I’ve just been starting.
SD: You had a tough first start but have been almost unhittable. What changed and what’s been working well?
LB: The first game I think some things just didn’t go my way. As much as that sounds like an excuse, I walked a few guys (three to be exact) which never helps you, but I wasn’t really getting hit (he allowed six hits). All you can do as a pitcher is just throw your best stuff and try to throw strikes.
SD: What are you trying to accomplish up here?
LB: I’ve made the transition from being a reliever at school to now being a starter, so I’m just trying to get used to that, trying to develop a third pitch. I’ve been working on my change-up and then just being consistent, throwing strikes and having good stuff.
It’s kind of a feel pitch so you have to throw it to develop it. Being a reliever, when you’re seeing hitters only one time, you really only need two pitches to get them out. As a starter, you’re seeing guys three and four times, so you have to be able to get guys out in different ways. Having a change-up helps that out.
SD: Is being up here special for you with your brother pitching for the Red Sox?
LB: I’ve actually gotten to go to Boston twice and see him and everyone up here knows him. So they’re always asking me about him. But it’s cool. I’m proud of him and he’s having a great year, too. He went to the beach with his wife during the All-Star Break, but he has an off-day this week and he’s going to come in because my parents are coming up here. So he’s going to come see me.
SD: When you’re not playing baseball, what kind of things do you do?
LB: I’ve tried to get to the golf course a couple of times, but it’s tough, we’ve had a couple rainouts, so all our off-days we have games. I think we’re going like 20-something days in a row with a game, which gets pretty exhausting. Before that I tried to hit the golf course when I could and I’ve been to the beach once.
SD: Which would you prefer: the beach or golf?
LB: I’d probably take golf over the beach, but I wouldn’t be complaining with either one.