One of the most incredible comebacks of a generation has come full circle.
Daniel Bard entered a game for the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. That alone was enough to do end a seven-year exile from the majors caused by a debilitating case of the yips for the former Boston Red Sox reliever.
Once on the mound, Bard went to work and looked like a new pitcher, basically because he is a new pitcher. In 1 1/3 innings of work, Bard struck out one and allowed two hits while picking up the win, his first since May 29, 2012. His four-seam fastball averaged 95.2 mph and topped out at 98.7 mph, according to Statcast.
And, most importantly, 20 of his 25 pitches were strikes.
Pretty amazing for a guy — once among the most electric relievers in baseball — who was once posting more walks than outs before retiring.
Daniel Bard’s command was completely lost
Here’s how Bard career went in the minors after throwing his last MLB pitch in 2013:
2013: 23 walks in 6 1/3 minor league innings in the Red Sox organization
2014: 9 walks, 7 HBPs in 2/3 innings in the Texas Rangers organization
2015: no appearances after signing with the Chicago Cubs
2016: 13 walks, 5 HBPs in 3 innings in the St. Louis Cardinals organization
2017: 24 walks, 4 HBPs in 9 1/3 innings in the Cardinals and New York Mets organization
Oct. 2017: retirement
In total, that’s 69 walks and 16 HBPs in 19 1/3 innings of work. That’s more than 1.4 free passes per out. The yips don’t get much worse than that.
No one looking at that history would think the player in question would ever touch an MLB mound again, even as he spends four desperate years trying to return to the majors. As he told Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, Bard took a coaching job with the Arizona Diamondbacks after hanging up his cleats, and eventually found himself throwing the ball accurately while playing catch with players. Soon enough, he was throwing in front of scouts and signing a minor league deal with the Rockies.
And now, he’s back on an MLB mound, throwing nearly as hard as his heyday and throwing strikes. No matter how his season or the Rockies’ season goes, he’s already done something worth remembering.
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