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CHICAGO -- Calling his new team a "fresh environment," Chicago Cubs pitcher Daniel Bard is hoping to return to the form that made him one of the premier setup men in the game.
"It's been a crazy week for me, crazy year for me and even wilder few days," Bard said. "To have a fresh environment to work in is really exciting."
Bard, claimed from the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, may not pitch in a game this month, but that doesn't mean he's not in the Cubs' plans for next season. Bard has battled inconsistency and injuries since producing a two-year run in 2010 and 2011 in which he gave up just 91 hits in 147 2/3 innings. His ERA those years was 1.93 and 3.33, respectively.
His troubles began when the Red Sox tried to convert him from a reliever to a starter.
"I could spend all day talking about it," Bard said Friday before his first game with his new team. "I don't think it was necessarily a bad move in itself.
"We, the coaches and myself included, tried to change too many things to try to turn me from a reliever to a starter, where I probably could have just taken the pitcher that I was out of the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would have been fine."
Bard started 10 games for the Red Sox and was 4-6 with a 5.30 ERA as a starter in 2012.
"We tried to overhaul in spring training," he said. "Throwing more changeups, cut the ball, sink the ball, change speeds with the fastball. Things I hadn't done in the past. ... Overall, it just kind of got me out of my game. It's been a little bit of a journey over the past year trying to get it back. Some injuries have gotten in the way as well."
This season, Bard has had to overcome two separate abdominal problems setting his progress back even further. It means he may not pitch this month, although he threw for Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and manager Dale Sveum on Friday.
"It's not a necessity," Sveum said of Bard getting into a game. "No timetable to when he gets on the mound, or even if he gets on the mound."
But Bard has a believer in Cubs president Theo Epstein. As general manager in Boston, Epstein drafted Bard and watched him develop.
"He's a guy that has seen me at my best, and he's seen me at my worst," Bard said. "It's pretty awesome to know you have someone like that on your side."
So add him to the list of pitchers who will compete for a job in the bullpen next season as Bard's starting days might be behind him. That list includes almost no one who started this season with the Cubs.