"Today was the first day I could actually say I felt like a starting pitcher out there, not like a reliever starting," the Boston Red Sox pitcher said Sunday.
There's still work to be done.
Competing for a spot in Boston's starting rotation, Bard gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
"He worked runners when they were on base. He got ground balls when he needed to, got some swings and misses when he needed to, too," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Overall I liked everything. He had some tough breaks but worked his way out of jams, had some pitches that could've been called strikes. He didn't let them affect him. ... What was there not to like besides the five runs on the board? I think some of them could've been prevented."
Adam Lind hit a solo homer in the second, Yunel Escobar had an RBI single in the third and Brett Lawrie hit a run-scoring double-play grounder in the fourth. Toronto added a pair of runs in the sixth, when Edwin Encarnacion hit a tying RBI double.
The hard-throwing right-hander struck out five and walked three.
"I was able to work on a lot of things," Bard said. "Take the five runs out of it and I feel pretty good about it. ... They kept slapping one on there every inning. I kind off felt I threw the ball well each of those innings but every hit kind of fell through and ground balls got through."
Toronto starter Aaron Laffey allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings.
Mike Aviles, Boston's heir-apparent to traded shortstop Marco Scutaro, doubled twice and singled, driving in a run and scoring two. The Red Sox scored twice in the first on Aviles' double, Jacoby Ellsbury's triple and Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.
Darnell McDonald tripled for two Boston runs in the fifth.
"I definitely wasn't crisp today," Laffey said. "Like every time I missed a spot I was watching the ball hit off the wall. ... The positive thing is I didn't walk anybody. If I had it could've been a problem to me."
Ricardo Nanita hit a game-ending single in the 10th against Doug Mathis.
NOTES: RHP Dustin McGowan, expected to be in the Blue Jays' starting rotation, pulled himself out of a minor league game with what was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, painful inflammation of tissue along the bottom of his right foot. He is listed as day to day. McGowan, who turned 30 Saturday, missed the 2009 and 2010 seasons and most of 2011 due to shoulder operations. ... Lawrie was 0 for 2 and played five innings in his first game since a strained left groin sidelined him March 16. ... Toronto optioned INF David Cooper and OF Travis Snider to Triple-A Las Vegas and returned C Yan Gomes and INFs Chris Woodward and Jonathan Diaz to their minor league camp.