Bard's diary: Facing Manny, life on the road

June, 19, 2010
6/19/10
9:45
PM ET
Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard is back with his latest player diary for ESPNBoston.com. He gives his thoughts on Manny's return, why he enjoys coming into a bases loaded situation, and you'll never guess where he was when Daniel Nava hit that grand slam in his first Major League at-bat. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)

Friday's game ended with me facing Manny Ramirez. That was fun. Pap had thrown three days in a row. So that gave me the opportunity to get in there. Fortunately, I was able to end it with a strikeout. Manny's one of those guys that you kind of need to pinch yourself the first time you face them. I felt the same way last year facing Jeter and ARod, guys I grew up watching.

Facing a batter like Manny who has 500 home runs and a future Hall of Famer-type is always cool. I know he played here a long time and many of my teammates are familiar with Manny, but I got ready for him the same way by going over him in the scouting report meeting. The media made a big deal about him coming back. To us, he's just another guy in the scouting report. Now, he is a very good hitter, but you still try and find his weaknesses and exploit them.

He got more cheers in his first at-bat here then I thought. He did a lot for this team and organization, but didn't go out on a good note. But I guess people remembered him for the good things, which says a lot about the people in Boston. While I didn't play with Manny, I have heard the “Manny Being Manny” stories over the years, some good, some bad. The highlight reel they showed during the game on the JumboTron had a lot of funny stuff on it. He is definitely an entertaining guy. I didn't know him personally, but he seemed to keep people on their toes because you never knew what he was going to do.

Speaking of Manny, our Manny, Delcarmen that is, thought he was going to make it onto “SportsCenter”'s Top 10 with the catch he made on Daniel Nava's grand slam that he hit in his first at-bat. You know where I was when he hit it? I was in the bathroom. There's a bathroom out there in the bullpen, a very small one. I was in there and heard a really loud cheer and tried to get out as quickly as I could. I walked out when he crossed home plate. I missed everything. Then I saw the replay of Manny catching it. He was pretty pumped about that. To be able to give Nava the ball was pretty cool too. Guys were joking Manny was holding it for ransom. Wouldn't surprise me, as Manny is always trying to make an extra dollar here and there.

This has been a good homestand. We've been pitching well. We're putting a lot of runs on the board, which makes it pretty easy on us pitchers. A lot of credit goes to some of the replacement-type guys we have. Nava, [Darnell] McDonald have been unbelievable. Some of the pitchers we've called up have helped us eat up innings like [Joe] Nelson and Boof [Bonser] when they were here. We've had contributions from a lot of different guys this year. You expect that to happen every year, but not to this extent with two-thirds of your outfield being hurt. It's huge. Just goes to show how important it is to keep those guys in Triple-A ready, especially a guy like Nava who came out of nowhere.

We're going back on the road this week. Traveling in the big leagues is definitely nicer then in the minors. Since we do travel a lot, they have to make it somewhat luxurious. We fly on normal planes, they're just chartered flights. We get as much food as we want. It's just not great food, but good like Chick Fill-A. On the planes, we're all creatures of habit and try to sit in the same seats. We each get our own row, which is nice. I sit behind Clay Buchholz usually. There's usually a guitar sitting around. So either I have one or he does. We try not to annoy anyone sitting around us too much. They do the best they can to get us out of here quickly after games.

Last time, I told you about the incident in New York where we got stuck at the airport when our plane had to be rerouted. You run into incidents like that because half the time we're leaving after a night game. So we're not getting to the airport until midnight or a little after. In that case, with the airport closed, we had a hard time getting to the plane. I don't think we got back until 6 the next morning and then had to play that night. It's just stuff that you deal with and the nature of the game and our job.

Once we get to a city, we usually stay at a nice hotel. The one in Seattle is particularly nice. They give us suites there. Not a big suite, but it’s nice, new and feels clean. There's only a handful that I wouldn't recommend staying in. Of all the cities on the road, I like going to Anaheim the best. Nice hotel and it's next to a mall. Most of the time we have an off-day out there to adjust to the jetlag. Because it's Anaheim, we don't really get recognized by anyone very much. I'm sure some of these guys do like David [Ortiz], Youk and Pedey. But I can walk around the mall and no one is going to recognize me, which is kind of nice not to have to worry about that. Places like Baltimore and New York, there are so many baseball fans that you're going to get recognized.

My least favorite city to go to on the road is New York. I'm not a huge fan of going there only because we stay about 45 minutes from the ballpark. Also, I get really claustrophobic in big cities, tight cities like that. Being right in Times Square can feel claustrophobic. I grew up right outside of Charlotte. There is a lot more space out there with more room to stretch your arms. The ballpark is great in New York. It's a fun place to play. As far as the accommodations go, it just gets a little old where we stay and having to travel 45 minutes to an hour to get to the ballpark.

If we're on the subject of favorites, I'll tell you my favorite bullpen on the road is in Detroit. They have a dugout with doors that close that is also heated and air conditioned. It has glass in the front. So you watch the game from ground level out there, which is really cool. The worst? Probably has to be Texas. Apparently, they forgot to build the visiting bullpen and threw it in there late when they were building the stadium. You can tell because there's room for about three or four pitchers to sit on this bench to actually see the game. The rest of us have to stand behind them or there's another bench behind that doesn't face the field. So you can't see the game. That, and it's 140 degrees out there and the sun sets in our eyes. For the first four or five innings, you have sun right in your eyes. It's bad.

Fans are always fun to watch or listen to when you're in the bullpen. Definitely the most entertaining fan interaction lately was when we were in Baltimore. An Orioles fan came over. Keep in mind, we get yelled at all the time as we're warming up. Some of it’s funny, most of it's not. It just kind of gets old. If it’s funny, I can respect it because fans can be creative with their insults. So we're in Baltimore and this one guy comes up, no one is even warming up at the time, he decides to get on Gary Tuck, our bullpen coach. He pulls up his bio online off his phone and starts reading it out loud and making fun. Tuck is a really funny type of guy, but can be serious because he has a dry sense of humor. He's getting kind of mad about it. We're all trying to hide our laughs because we were listening to everything the guy said. That was pretty funny, of all the people out there, he picked Tuck to make fun of.

No one was happier to have Dustin Richardson in the bullpen this past week than I was. With him here, I don't have to pack up the cooler to bring out to the bullpen anymore. I stopped carrying out the cooler after last year because that's a rookie deal. But having the least amount of service time of the pitchers, doesn't matter if I'm the youngest or not, I still have to pack it when Richardson isn't here. As long as he's here, I'm off the hook. The cooler is packed with stuff the pitchers need that probably wouldn't make sense like fingernail clippers, super glue for if you get a blister, medical supplies, various ointments. Stuff you might need during the course of a game that we don't want to run into the clubhouse for. That and some snacks, granola bars, trail mix, Red Bull, anything you might need over the course of a game. I happily hand those duties over to Dustin.

Enough about what goes on in the bullpen, how about we get into what happens when I come out of the bullpen and into the game. I've had a few occasions where I've come into a bases-loaded situation. I've done OK when that's happened. I guess it’s because I'm getting swings early. In a bases-loaded situation late in the game, most hitters want to be the hero by hitting a double or a home run. You're getting swings early in the count. You're getting hard swings. A real smart, mature hitter is going to shorten up his swing and maybe try to work the count. Then there are a lot of guys who are still good hitters, but I think it's human nature to want to be the hero and knock in three or four runs. So you get some big swings.

I try to take advantage of that and pitch to contact right away. I guess the results have been in my favor so far fortunately. It's definitely an adrenaline rush to face that situation. There are some situations where you come in and have to almost create your own adrenaline, like if you have a four- or five-run lead, or you're starting a new inning. But a situation like that where you have a one-run game with the bases loaded, it's all there for you. You don't have to conjure anything up. It gets the blood pumping and is easy to get up for a situation like that.

[Jonathan Papelbon] had to take a short leave from us and I took over the closing duties for a bit. I got to be a part of the game where Tim Wakefield broke the record for most innings pitched by a Red Sox. Wake is in the process and on the verge of breaking a lot of Red Sox records. To see him do that was cool as a teammate and a friend of ours. We're proud of him. In the process, he's helping us win ballgames. To be a part of that game was special to pitch and to get him the win. Unfortunately, we were on the road, so he didn't get quite the fan reaction he probably would have liked. They recognized him a couple of days later when we came home, which was great and we were happy for him.

When I was closing for Pap there really wasn't too much difference for how I got ready to pitch. It was about the same. Typically, if Pap is there, he is going to throw in any save situation. Then if the game goes to one run more, there's a good chance I'm throwing, or I'm throwing the eighth. It's a pretty similar role. If anything, the only change I made was bumping my whole stretching routine from the fifth or sixth to the sixth or maybe the seventh inning. Other than that, things stayed about the same.

The All-Star break is right around the corner. I'm trying to make plans. My wife and I just bought a house that is being built in Mississippi, where she is from. We may go and look at that or we'll take a little vacation. We bought the house, which was already under construction. We just have to pick out some finishing touches, which she has been doing most of herself. I trust her with it.

With Father's Day here, how bad is it that I can't think of anything I've given my dad over the years? I guess none of it was meaningful. There is one Father's Day memory I have. When I was twelve, I hit a home run on Father's Day. That is actually true, I didn't make that up, I swear. It was at an All-Star, summer league-type of game.

Sorry that the Celtics lost Game 7. I liked that we started our game an hour early so fans could be home to watch. It was awesome to see the support they got. The support we get every night, goes for all the New England sports teams. They're passionate fans. Because of that, you get into it even as a player. Definitely, I was watching as much of the games as I could. It was a great Game 7. Unfortunately they didn't come out on top, but it was fun to watch.

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