01/04/11 7:38 PM EST
Veteran catcher Bard re-signs with Mariners
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Bard, 32, said he understands newly-signed free agent Miguel Olivo is the starting catcher now, but he's been promised the opportunity to compete with Adam Moore for the No. 2 job when Spring Training opens next month in Peoria, Ariz.
"I was trying to mentor Adam the best I could last year and that's not going to change," Bard said. "Adam is a big part of what they're doing in the future. But at the end of the day, the guy who plays best is going to play, so you treat your teammates the best you can and never know how things will work in the end."
Bard hit .214 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 112 at-bats last year with the Mariners while also splitting time with Triple-A Tacoma. The switch-hitter is a career .256 hitter in nine Major League seasons and played for new Mariners manager Eric Wedge for five years in Cleveland, including one year in Triple-A before both were promoted.
"Wedgie is a guy who expects you to play the game the right way. He doesn't pull punches, he tells you what he thinks and that will be good for the young guys," Bard said. "He's not mean. He's not a tyrant. But he'll tell you what he feels. Anybody who has respect for the game will love Wedgie because he's an old-school baseball guy."
Bard said he weighed an offer from another team, but ultimately chose to return to Seattle because of Wedge, his wife's extended family in the Tacoma area and the opportunity to continue with a franchise he enjoyed last season.
"I was with both Wedge and [pitching coach] Carl Willis in Cleveland. I've seen them do it before and I think they can do it again," he said. "With the young pitching and position players coming up, we're closer than a lot of people think. That said, we have to go out and play better than we did last year. We scored two stinking runs a game last year. We put too much pressure on our pitchers.
"But as we get better offensively, anything can happen in our division. So for me, it came down to Seattle and one other team and I felt like I wanted to help turn this thing around."
Bard said he's fully recovered from minor injuries suffered in a fatal car accident that claimed the life of his friend, Pat McKendry, while on a hunting trip in Colorado on Oct. 9.
"Obviously emotionally, it's been a lot harder than physically," he said. "It's heartbreaking to lose your best friend. But ultimately, I feel blessed to have another day on this planet. To go out and put a uniform on again in Spring Training will definitely be a different feeling.
"I'll try to have more fun and not take myself so seriously all the time because sometimes this job becomes tedious and pressure-filled. But when given a second chance, you just go out and enjoy things as much as you can and encourage your teammates to do the same."