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Bard remains in roster limbo while refining mechanics

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though there have been some encouraging developments from reliever Daniel Bard this spring, the right-hander is still searching for consistency. And that's why there's no assurance at this point that Bard will crack Boston's Opening Day roster.

If there's an area the Red Sox have considerable depth at, it is right-handed relief. Bard also has Minor League options, meaning the club has an easy way of giving him more time to refine his mechanics.

When asked if the decision on Bard was one of the toughest to make in the latter stages of camp, manager John Farrell nodded affirmatively and added, "And we'll take every day that we have available to us to make it. I guess the best way I can answer is we haven't decided yet."

Bard worked in a Minor League game on Friday and was scheduled to pitch in a Grapefruit League contest Sunday against the Phillies. He's on the schedule to pitch again on Wednesday against the Marlins.

In Friday's Minor League outing, Bard walked two batters.

"He felt good warming up," Farrell said. "Obviously the numbers and the overall inning didn't turn out as intended. He missed up to his arm side a number of times. There's still some continuing work to be done there. It's still part of the process to get him back to the reliever we've known him to be."

There are still times Bard takes a batter or two to gain his command of the strike zone.

"To me, part of that evaluation is attacking the first hitter rather than taking a hitter to get into the inning," Farrell said. "To me, that sort of lends to that consistency that we're talking about."

When Bard was at his best, his velocity was in the upper 90s. He was even known to reach triple digits at times. This spring, he's improved from where he was at last year, throwing in the mid 90s for the most part.

"That will continue to increase just by virtue of repeating his delivery and gaining some confidence along the way," said Farrell. "It's important to note that while he's had a couple of less-than [stellar] outings these last two, the three previous were what we had hoped to see. I think it's important to note - and Daniel is well aware of this -- that this isn't a flipping of the switch. This is a step process that he's making solid progress in."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.
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