WEEI>On Demand>>Minor Details Ep. 33: Daniel Bard and Mark Prior on the road back to the majors

Minor Details Ep. 33: Daniel Bard and Mark Prior on the road back to the majors

Aug 13, 2012|

The Red Sox feature a pair of pitchers in Pawtucket who have enjoyed the pinnacles of success in the majors but who, for different reasons, now find themselves in Triple-A trying to prove anew their credentials as big leaguers. Daniel Bard's rocky transition to a big league rotation resulted in his being sent down to Triple-A earlier this season in a shocking turn of events, as his mechanics fell out of whack while he tried to recast himself as a starter. Mark Prior, meanwhile, hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2006. The former All-Star has endured a host of injuries that intruded upon what appeared to be a career of limitless promise, but now pitching as a reliever in Pawtucket, he's putting up some eye-opening strikeout numbers even as he adjusts to life as a very different pitcher from the one who dominated in the majors roughly a decade ago. Both Bard and Prior joined Minor Details to discuss the challenges of trying to pitch their way back to the majors.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

For the most part this season we've been looking guys who were on the way up making progress up towards the major leagues through the Red Sox system. Players Alexander -- was just promoted a couple of days ago from up from -- Salem to double -- Portland guys like -- shop. Jackie Bradley junior and Matt Barnes all of whom are moving on the way up the latter this week we're going to take a look at a couple of different guys. Guys who have already been established major leaguers but who are now backed out in the minors trying to reestablish themselves. We'll talk to Mark Pryor. The pitcher who has a phenom coming out of college in the early two thousands but who injured a number of shoulder and arm woes that ended up nearly derailing his career. He's now working his way back in Pawtucket. But first we'll check in with Daniel Bard. The Red Sox reliever turned starter who struggled badly this year at the Major League level while trying to make his way into the Red Sox rotation. Bart is now backed out in Pawtucket committed to being a reliever in trying to work his way back it hasn't always been pretty. He had some serious command issues at the start of his tenure backed down and -- it. But in recent weeks he's been looking much much better getting closer to being a pitcher who can help out at the Major League level. Here's Daniel Bard from Pawtucket discussing his season back down in the -- Daniel thanks so much for taking a little bit of time to sit down and I appreciate it. So I guess you know let's start with let's start with this the initial send down obviously you know had had a shock value I think -- said as much that it was. You know kind of difficult record at around it. At what point were you able to move beyond OK you know this has happened and kind of able to take getting the right frame of mind to focus on what you need to do in order to. To work your way you know to to kind of execute you know an institute of things you need to do. Rather than kind of dealing with just -- shock of what's happened. And I'm I'm back down the miners. They were definitely period there -- It's time Thursday acetylene. And implement a shot at Thurston. Just not something you expect after being suspended three straight years. You know big club so. But you know it is what it is there was some things. Descended to work on and cancer a little bit out of whack him. And I think the whole. Idea being sent down maybe -- expect hander didn't. Seek common. There's that -- yeah I think. Just takes on the settlements. -- -- took me you know I had a handful of good outings in the first month and flows data on some. This wasn't nearly any sort of consistency I think there it felt like. You know no real timetable. That's for how long I'd be here or what the plan was have felt like. I need to go out every outing. And try to win a spot activists in the big leagues with that -- so I just try to put a little too much pressure on myself in that respect trying to be. -- perfect turning -- outside every time and meanwhile. You know I think my mechanics or where I want to be so. Kind of battle on myself there and you know this kind of spun my wheels there for months and think. Now finally a little bit before the all star break okay. Just kind of something clicked in my head and I realized that hey you know this is gonna happen overnight it's going to be a process and has. That's kind of let's say a week before the also -- that I got. Finally put myself in the right the red metal -- than it is to go out there and pitch well organized and and continue to get better so. In a process that definitely. It's missing the last 23 weeks is definitely. In the right direction so don't get. The results recently have been have been you know consistently punitive hopefully you've had a number of I think something like. Eight out of nine of -- of your last outings you know been scoreless appearances. Was it as was in a matter of of getting your mentality right -- those results follow almost instantly or was there still you know what was it really. You know where would you characterize this is having been. Government as straightforward as find the right mentality and that you're able to execute or is it a little bit more complex there was they're kind of a little bit of lag between those two things. Yeah I mean I think even after -- like -- said the mental side kind of click format so I was still going. Good bad good bad you know every outing and transparent with the disconnect was there I think it was -- have a good one. I'd try to build on the next ought to make a little better than the last and I find myself. In back Carlos you know two hours ago before that and it just kind of that cycle and go to an excellent. Not really caring what happened and results degrade it a little better. Same thing next -- that happened 45 times and just got it got to a point where I realized that you know I just got to go out and be the same guy every time and I'll be better than I was slots you know just. Do the work between you know between outings. To get. Physically everything I need you know ready to pitch and go out there and trusted him. -- -- -- In terms of evaluating yourself at the at this level you know at this point how do you. What what is the successful outing how do you you know is it at this point are you looking for. Are you basing this tentative success on -- -- you are you basing it on. Getting a zero on the runs column are you basing it on you know on. And -- had no. Getting you know getting to punch outs and you know sort or is it you know perhaps if you get a couple of runners on like if you walking guy. Be able to find your way back in select you know into getting your your release point -- your mechanics exactly where they need to be how how do you evaluate on an outing by having success. Levels your success. And I think it changes. From even outing to outing but it's really more of a feel thing how to feel out there that feel in control. You know throughout the outing and you know I've been able to say even a couple of outings and they go ahead. -- walker two walks and an inning that's the -- control felt like the pitches that missed it and missed you know with conviction and they're aggressive. All of -- -- relative and I realized that. And I had to stop looking for perfection of myself -- Noticed it as they feel like I've been for the past three years you know from Boston. But never perfect mean that's what made me I think. You know what I did this when things weren't going wealth. Didn't bother me came back and got the next so that's. What's that -- kind of expecting. Now maybe expecting too much out of myself. Let the ability take over and and you know. My job up there is to compete let let my body do its those who wants to get to that point it's it's. Lou good to them there. How different. A pitcher are you -- you were the last time that you're here in 2009. You know just in terms of stuff and in terms of understanding. What that stuff is supposed to do. I think I didn't know much about myself the first time I came through an unkind mean it. Coming -- for really good year in double play you know pretty much. There every pitch as hard as -- kid picked side of the plate and let the and honestly that's. Probably over you know I think I got where I had. Pretty good command over the last two years. Something about and still -- that same mentality. Just picking a spot let it rip. I think at this mentality of starting maybe. The mentality I thought I needed to -- it's there. Try to just keep in Littleton to nit picky with with pitches and trying to be able to perfect trying to be some of them not ultimately. So -- away. You know I think at all acquired a lot more skills of the last three or four years the same time. I got to go back to -- -- You know much styles that are simplistic -- it's you know it's it's attacking and zone -- let my stuff play. And that's this that would've worked to get back to and it's right Aaron now. It's really interesting though because you're one of you know you're extremely bright like you are cerebral guy in many respects in terms of the way -- which you think about the game. Is it hasn't always been kind of a fight between. You know between applying that intelligence and kind of almost over pinky the cat and mouse game vs universe is just. Stripping down some bad aspect of the game and saying you know prevent rip it to have a deal yet amendments. In the I'm at my desk when I'm not thinking you know I think I'm thinking about -- what some experts tickets that are out. It's simple it's that simple and sometimes I think it. Just in the way that I am totally that I think in my personality. One over think things -- wanted to do more than doing. It amendment that's when when I'm not thinking it's simple as that. Just keep it simple fossils and in the main focus you have. You know. You know. Did you feel that it did that feel similar to 2007. In anyway that professional debut that you have it was difficult season where did you note that. Kind of finding the way out of it was more immediately at hand and it was -- 2007 season. You know it's similar in a lot of ways I'm a lot more I know myself a lot better as a pitcher as a person. But. Honestly the issues that face both times there were very similar it was basically. Trying to get into start trying to get mold mold myself and starting pitcher. What that was supposed to look like in my header in you know some of these some coaches heads. Nobody had any bad intentions justice. It seemed like that was the best idea at the time it is little tweaks to my deliveries and maybe tweets to let's -- pitching in attack -- Where you know it make a bunch of little tweaks then product looks nothing like what he started in the final loss. What made them. The first -- -- good -- in life and why you're going to be you know why everyone wanted to make this senator Graham and those are college but it. -- appearance on the ball -- those three quarters and came out you know mid ninety's and I and sinker slider. Thought -- was -- very good but it was enough to get hitters out sinker had you know as movement 96. And that's that are tendon. -- just -- of them that it says turn it. Some five mechanics and everything everything. We just over tweeted to the point of no return there at Reno for that time being it. Same thing this year I think we just tried to mold -- mold me into. What do starters plus -- look like rather than just taken. What I was -- -- and you know maybe at the wind up but keep in everything else is saying this -- that was ultimately that's what was successful so. Yeah there's a lot of similarities I mean bit. And the biggest thing coming into this go through this. This year has been I know I've gotten through before you came out a way better pitcher on the other end. So there's no reason that that this isn't gonna turn -- similar. In terms of where it ends up you know your recent performance has you know. Is is kind of a discussion point at the Major League you know certainly. Major League staff will be you know yes saved looks like Daniels pretty close to you wanna help. Are you. When you lately and you do have that more sustained success. Are you still able to have the mentality of you know of of just focusing on on what you're doing and big date basis into play or you sort of thing. You know it is does that creep into your mind when Mike when you are called up. I am I going to get called up that sort of thing you know I think that's natural I think every guy in triple a little bit of -- hot streak. Everyone in this clubhouse wants wants to be in the big leagues tomorrow. You know you're in a little bit of hot streak feeling good about yourself naturally that's where you want to be clear open. You know some opening old will create itself -- -- force their hand or the other. So. Nuts it's I think it's human nature. Very baseball players think that would bit. That's I think what -- been better at over the past month or so. It is realizing yeah might be seeded outings away from from getting called back that. Not letting it affect. What I do dated days or what I do on the mound that night you know. President trying to do too much as I realized pretty definitive. That didn't work. That realization was there anyone in particular on the team and that I mean there's an interesting cross section of people whether through the organization who come through. Obviously got like five to spare you had a lot of experience with over the years it. You've known RD forever. You you know having a guy like Mark -- sitting a couple of lockers down for you has. Did any of that help you to make the real listeners -- something you really came to on your own realization was. The realization that you know fit you need to kind of focus on just being here and it's not you know not kind of push the fast forward. Yeah I think they realize that early on -- let's them talk to him. My wife about. People I talk to the trust me. That was the first things coming to grips and say hey you know this is -- rehab assignment I'm in Tripoli right now and I got up and down. Come to grips with that saying. I think you know part of what I assailants opened mentally -- probably about a month ago. I -- rediscover that that fire that passion that got me from triple in the big leagues in the first place back in 2009. We discover that fired and use that same mentality here regardless of how much. Timers success I've had they lose that it doesn't matter got to beat out. However many other guys return to the same thing imminent itself. It's. It's it's been fun in a lot of ways -- one blog and obviously if you don't know the ultimate goal is that ultimately it's a good day -- day. Process of just continues -- attorney better how connected. Do you remain to what's going on at the Major League level and -- in two guys on the me to a team during this. All of them pretty close friends of all of them so we exchanged Texan. When when we're home. The same times. He needed something -- some of the guys. That's been that is but it's also -- I -- did get away from some of the drama a little bit. And the craziness that goes with being up there. I'll take that and it to build that in there so. It seems as if by all indications that time as soon as much as good as much of the focus has done it at that time is giving is getting closer so. Dana thanks very much for sitting down explaining and where things -- and the progress and making them here really appreciate it thanks so it's. When he has taken with the number two overall pick in the 2001 draft Mark Pryor was heralded as perhaps one of the best pitching prospects of all time. The guy with -- picture perfect mechanics someone who was who had a written all over him. And he was well on his way to living up to that standard. Up until a number of shoulder problems with the cubs and up derailing his career. Now prior after not really having pitched since 2006 in the major leagues is on his way back. He's for the first time in several years he's been able to remain relatively healthy over the course of his season in -- protected he was signed to a minor league contract. And he said that the first time you made it's that may actually he was content to make it the easy way. Now he's happy to work his way back up the hard way and finds the work in order to try to make himself a Major League pitcher again. This time as a reliever to be immensely rewarding. Here's Mark -- discussing his career path our prior thanks very much for joining done -- our great to great to get a chance to meet -- public pursuit. So obviously it's been a unique process and you've explained this before but -- Your commitment to continue pitching and how how -- it was there a point at which you kind of had to confront. You know I really have to make a decision about whether or not a -- continue doing this or. Has the desire always been so great you were always going to just pitch to whatever injuries you're doing it and keep going. -- mean it was both as it is there it is it's always been. You know shoulder. To unseemly it was responding to -- -- promising -- You know -- turn the corner you every time to enlist -- of chances you know was a little but hope you know it. Still gonna -- things out there on but you know it's been process you know it's open says its ups and downs -- -- world you know. Foreign offerman and you know it's on bill. Everyone is different pitcher ten years after they break into the vaguely straight. Has that been a challenge that you welcome or is -- you know -- -- Just sit back and say man I wish -- -- -- 96 to 98 sitting a sitting in -- -- how many would be nice. Think your ability to monitor. Pitcher position you know heroes just you know figuring you're seniors just supposed. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- It's just a matter of you can you can stay ahead of and non. You know kind of -- and it's new ways and understand would you haters you trying to do winter seasonal viewed. In which you're trying to accomplish. And how your game plan news you dated put. The audio would -- and I suppose sort of kind of fun for us on. To located where lawsuits. Absolutely. Put us alive and if it doesn't really matter has done those those -- thoughts of Rudy creep in in my -- I knew what it was like -- like a lot of fun. But in some respects this is just as challenging just rewarding. Two they're you know nine and anyone in. You don't pitch. No it's always. You know have velocity. Those -- socially you it's -- zone. And you guys -- you're putting up. Huge strikeout numbers one down here are you surprised at all by the by the -- extend to the strikeout numbers the extent of the spring misty you've been able to get what down here. A little bit. But not necessarily. You know minuses have -- monologues. Phone but always going to that's vacated the finger hide the ball. I think that's one reason why you know I give a little bit you know I have some successful -- velocity -- us missiles. Lawlessness in the sic it down here are still my fastball and at the velocity that's. I think that was some of the deception. The bunkers. You know still plays. Some he used an attitude tomorrow benefit. And that's why didn't need to be more aggressive. And not it. I think incidence of C united -- honorable feels -- and try to live on the corners when. You know I don't assorted little corners in particular it's just attacking as. Just because I -- a little bit of deception and that social kitchen is still vote no deception. When of the you know fascinating elements of your career is it you. Whether and -- the rightly or wrongly and I don't know -- -- that became kind of a a flash point in the conversation about. Pitch counts. I wonder whether or not you think fit your shoulder issue in your shoulder injuries through the years. Were related to U usage -- you know how you're thinking as someone who's now you know seem to game for a number of perspectives in over a number of years. How you're thinking -- evolved about pitch counts. You know it's. I don't think anybody has cancer and I think this -- the ball long thing. That was even though right or wrong much research people do doctors do. Amputees do you know what's right what's wrong. I think everybody's these different issues and individual. And how they progress hackers. Lots its varied it's taxes to -- NC here's a baseline mean it is. There was make it different servers listed. Of his past you professional principles -- -- pitchers so. It is -- its offices. Rules are archery. Number or way of doing things out there and whether -- counts. Let some minor issues. You know I can't say 0% one way or the other. -- a lot of other factors you know that led to some injuries you know. You know collusion in -- you know that and pardon. That's the news on the different intervals for everybody missile or. And so close because it accurately actresses to -- you know make it to supply it wide argument and it's not an unpopular what was that said. When you watch when you -- teammates -- -- young teammates or kind of throwing do you have a different vantage point on you know on what are workload means now that you did. I've -- you did a decade ago. Yeah I mean. -- -- -- somebody who's seen and been around -- and you you see. Its so called this council woman's. It's a fine line from protecting you guys. Developing and it and -- almost Internet. -- -- draft as you won't feel Warner's you've done your rotation all the comes appointment ago ago. Is when you get some big news expect -- -- we've gone 789 innings every fifth day. And if you're limiting -- ninety pitches in -- five pitches and he's only thrown five innings six innings down here. That a lot of latter third of the game it is. There's a lot tougher in the first answers. You know and you look at guys CC for lenders and those guys. You know those earlier as you on the battlefield seal those dozens -- is results of you know pitch counts and you know how they're trying to control every little aspect of it. You know Hamas in us illegally others it's extremely -- go to you on ever. He knows no one under one -- sometimes wanton and minor leagues being you know my first go around. I don't know if that's the so the -- -- either but. You and I don't have the answers I don't know and -- were -- innovative literacy answers he's just. He's just got to hope and prayer is you know. That person individual takes care of themselves mostly -- and in news veco work. Let everything fall we will. There are causing an article perhaps when you're in an -- leak saying that part of motivation that you had. To continue was because I want to see your kids -- to see you. You know it is -- pitcher how old they are now balls almost six -- -- to do so you know it is the six year old is four and a half year old come out here do they get to see you -- kind of understand what's going on. I mean they do and they understand it and you know it's it's cool. You -- that it's come if you can go mass some -- was done here with over. Things are going minor leagues in between innings. You know slows things not a good better and different there is there though is that -- to agree to so. It's definitely. It's definitely different. And answer any dead who players will rule excessive you know. Bouncing yours your professional baseball on the field lifers is off -- life. Can't carry your baseball as much -- -- student they do and that was enough kids. But you know it's nice to see routers and then have a good time ballpark and join him. You know hopefully it's it looks like him and the big blue ball for one point how much have you thought about that possibility you know do you allow yourself to really think about. What it would mean what it would be like to set foot on a big league mound again. You know I don't really think about it -- people asking. My goals to get too big leagues dislike anybody else in this locker room. You know I've been on the movement in order slide. I don't think I -- rule understand maybe appreciate -- even -- -- never appreciated. Or -- appreciate but understand you know -- likes it -- it -- to -- back to -- and done and you know look back on things. Five years ten years after the fact but it right now on this. You know in the daily grind of you August -- that time we hear words. You know you're just trying to get through and -- and candidate to stay healthy and -- So from position to be successful author how close do you feel to being to being at that you know at that level. Certain pitches as -- Really close and other times -- -- -- -- -- You you know legislate again everybody you're gonna go through your ups and downs term -- consistent as possible throughout the year. He good stretch for 23 -- were followed through mobile world lots -- -- felt comfortable as often there's a sort of but you know I know is there -- of the -- -- has been more consistent. That definitely getting from me it's. It's about being consistent shown consistency shown consistency it's muscle to the other teams and who -- over -- -- go out there and give it consistent basis you're perspective seems very measured you know it seems like you're able to kind of you know really quick Everett put this whole experience in context where you always like that or is that something that you had to learn they used to solve this kind of grown over the years. You know on Bennett talks -- animals and out of the game and I've seen things in between are seeing. That's close to players about players and if employers of seamlessly no -- I think uses the older you did you can really manage your emotions a little bit more he understands us. You know what's important what's not important what's how to keep things in perspective. And I think. For me it's just -- -- -- plus you and that's the most important thing for me right now stomach I'm inclined and join the game and you know the new year you evaluated -- -- understand what you do do which did. And he's such sites on which to do -- proven and move on from there. But overall it's just -- it's just taken every day day by day and doing things that I -- do almost as. You know start stacking of the chips do season you know -- the in the days and into the years ago of ships. You had one brief one brief -- you know hit a two week set sidelining with an oblique. But I bet you've been healthy you've been you know you've been as we said racking up a number you know great strikeout totals and had some really you know outstanding stretches. Has this has what does this year been like do you feel like you know has this been a year in which you felt your best students you know next year. Not necessarily. You know honestly -- -- it other years it's all mostly don't. The -- closely Geithner specialist on it and has a lot of was five years. So for me is -- is getting used to the Verizon and the pressures of kitchen. You know lot of innings again. My offices for some innings and you know I haven't thrown more than those ten or eleven. Since 2006 and ruin. -- on and his sentence and just -- so. Mumbai is getting used to that again I and justice. Part of -- in some respects of developing. And more Fijian and you know these things are not Fiona -- -- read every day you'll get through it. Mark thanks so much -- really appreciate the time that's questioned -- acquitted on the from a bush.

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