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Red Sox: Daniel Bard Embracing Role As 'Intense Middle Reliever'

Many of us wake up each day, not knowing what we're going to be asked to do at work. We spend our evenings watching athletes who always know what they're going to be called upon to do on any given gameday. We appreciate, revere and even idolize them for knowing what they're expected to do and doing it well. And when they do it wrong, we chide and deride them until they turn it around. 

Most pro athletes who have played for the same teams for years have a very real identity on that team. Daniel Bard is not one of those athletes. Bard, who many Red Sox fans see as being the heir to the closer throne currently occupied by Jonathan Papelbon, came into Wednesday afternoon's game against the Oakland Athletics in the sixth inning, well ahead of the time he "normally" should have been in - presumably the eighth inning. 

He came in because Clay Buchholz had thrown over 100 pitches, loading the bases with only one out in the sixth, despite the visiting Sox leading by three runs. In six pitches, Bard ended the inning without any damage done. 

Despite being touted as the Sox' set-up man, Bard was happy to clean up in the sixth and keep the A's off the board in the seventh.

"My job is ‘intense middle relief,' '' he said. "But that's too much to say. Maybe you can call me ‘the stopper.' ''

Bard doesn't concern himself with his role as long as he's helping the team win, which they've struggled to do at the start of the 2011 season. But he does take an interest in other aspects of his game, according to the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.

Abraham notes that Bard reads his stats, especially those on Fangraphs.com involving shutdowns and meltdowns, according to Abraham. 

Sox fans don't need to look at the numbers to know how important the flamethrowing right-hander has been since making the big league team; many of them will note that he was the only reliable arm in the entire bullpen last season. 

Whatever his future is with the Red Sox, Bard's sure to make the most of it - as long as he doesn't get too interested in his numbers.