How impressive was 23-year-old Daniel Bard in his Triple-A debut?
I thought Duke McGuire, a long-time broadcaster for the Buffalo Bisons put it perfectly after the PawSox season-opening 6-4 win when he said, “If Boston doesn’t have room on its pitching staff for that guy the Red Sox are going to win about 120 games.”
There were several things to be excited about on Opening Day for the Pawsox, including 2-hit performances by Paul McAnulty, Dusty Brown and Alex Ochoa, and the 5 strong innings tossed by winning pitcher Enrique Gonzalez.
But make no mistake — Bard was the story. After making 9 spring training appearances for Boston without allowing a run, the former first round draft pick tossed 2 perfect innings and struck out the last 4 batters he faced to earn a save in a dazzling Pawtucket debut.
Bard’s fastball was consistently timed in the mid-90’s and peaked at 98. He threw 18 of 26 pitches for strikes and ended the game by freezing Jose Coronado with a knee-buckling slider.
It was a brilliant performance by the young righty on a day that began with sad news. Bard was an aquaintance of Nick Adenhart, the young Los Angeles Angels pitcher who died in a car accident in the early hours on Thursday morning. As a student at the University of North Carolina, Bard was one of Adenhart’s hosts when he came to Chapel Hill on a recruiting visit.
Bard entered this season as the fourth-ranked prospect and third-ranked pitcher according to Baseball America. On Friday night, the top-ranked pitching prospect in the organization — Michael Bowden — makes his first start of 2009. Pre-game coverage starts at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05.
My broadcast partner Steve Hyder got off to a good start in this year’s edition of “Stump Steve.” I quiz him in a variety of ways in the 7th inning of every broadcast and began the year with a contest we call “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” (in honor of PawSox Manager Ron Johnson — a dead-ringer for the rock star Meatloaf who had a big hit by that name).
Here’s how that version of “Stump Steve” works. I give my partner three fairly-challenging questions, and if he gets at least two right he wins.
Here were the questions on Opening Day:
1. What former Red Sox player hit the first pitch of the 1986 major league season out of the park for a home run?
2. Three players in history have hit 3 home runs on opening day. Name one of the three.
3. What Hall of Fame pitcher made the most opening day starts — 16 for 3 different teams?
The correct answers are:
1. Dwight Evans off of Jack Morris (Steve got it right)
2. Dmitri Young, Tuffy Rhodes, and George Bell (Steve incorrectly guessed Willie Mays)
3. Tom Seaver (Steve nailed that one too).
We’ll see if I can stump him in Game 2.
The 3:05 start on Opening Day gave us plenty of time to enjoy an epic post-game feast at Buffalo’s famed Anchor Bar — the place that claims to have invented the Buffalo-style chicken wing. Steve and I were joined by PawSox VP of Public Relations Bill Wanless, Director of Security Rick Medeiros, and Buffalo broadcaster Joel Godett.
If you listen to the game on Friday night, you might even smell the grease through your radio. E-mail me if we sound 10 pounds heavier. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.