Bard hoping to find new stride in Bucs' bullpen

Nostalgic spring save against former team aids Pittsburgh pitcher's case for the Majors

Bard hoping to find new stride in Bucs' bullpen

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Daniel Bard jogged in from the Pirates' bullpen in the bottom of the ninth during Monday's game against the Red Sox, a familiar song blared over the loudspeakers. The right-hander heard "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys.

It's a song that brings back plenty of memories for Bard, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2009-'13. The right-hander recorded three straight outs for the save in a 3-1 win against his former club.

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"I've heard that song so many times," said Bard. "I have more good memories to that song. It was kind of cool. It stirred up so many memories, but I was still pretty focused in on the task

"So much turnover has happened that I was afraid I wouldn't know anyone, but I still knew the trainers, some of the guys on the coaching staff, the bullpen guys. You think about players and coaches, and a lot of them have moved on. A ton of people were welcoming, though."

After his time with the Red Sox, Bard bounced around the Minors with the Cubs and Rangers before signing a Minor League contract with the Pirates during the offseason. Bard also had surgery in 2013, after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. In his words, that means "the nerves in my hand weren't telling my brain where my arm was."

"You really have to admire his perseverance. The last four or five years it's been a long road for him, through the thoracic outlet, the surgery that followed, the adjustment to the arm slot, which looks like he's gaining some comfort with," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who was Bard's pitching coach in Boston. "So you're happy for him, to see him back in a big league environment and throwing the ball well."

In his third appearance with the club, the right-hander admitted after the game that he didn't have his best stuff, but was excited to still get the save.

"I was on the side of the ball today. If I can go and get three outs on a day I don't feel great, that is huge step from the last few years," Bard said. "I felt pretty off but was able to compete and throw strikes."

Bard's now doing everything he can to stay in baseball and make it back to the Majors with the Pirates.

"I fell off the baseball planet for a while, but they know where to find me," Bard laughed. "I want to get in a game here. If not, I'll do it on the Minor League side or whatever they have for me."

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.