When spring training opened, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hoped the revival of reliever Daniel Bard wouldn’t become a dominant daily storyline. And thanks to the play of outfield prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., that generally has been the case.

But for Bard and the Red Sox, D-Day is approaching.

Within the next week, the Sox must decide whether to reserve the final seat in the bullpen for Bard, who will make a rather meaningful appearance today against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Although manager John Farrell isn’t ready to render a decision, Bard appears to be the underdog in a competition with reliever Clayton Mortensen.

It isn’t merely that Bard has not yet recovered his lights-out form from 2009-11 after a nightmarish experience as a starter last season. He also can be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers, a luxury the Red Sox don’t have with Mortensen. In the interest of preserving as much pitching depth as possible, the Sox may be best served sending Bard to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“This stuff tends to work itself out as time goes by,” Cherington said.

Bard didn’t allow a run in his first five Grapefruit League appearances before the Orioles hit him for three runs last Tuesday. In a minor league appearance Friday, Bard loaded the bases on a broken-bat single and two walks before hitting a batter.

Asked yesterday what he must see from Bard to feel comfortable giving him a spot in the bullpen, Farrell simply said, “Consistency,” both within an outing and from appearance to appearance. Farrell said he has seen an increase in Bard’s velocity, although there’s still room for improvement.

“I think it’s important to note that, while he’s had a couple of less-than outings his last two, the three previous were what we had hoped to see,” Farrell said. “And Daniel is well-aware of this. This isn’t a flipping of the switch. This is kind of a step process that he’s making solid progress in.”