An abbreviated summer training camp in Major League Baseball hasn’t squandered the usual dose of “feel good” stories that fans normally get when rosters are finalized.
On Friday, pitcher Daniel Bard became one of them.
The Colorado Rockies announced that Bard made the team after seven years out of the majors. Now 35, Bard last pitched one inning for the Boston Red Sox in 2013 before the reliever was designated for assignment after five years with the club.
After his time in Boston ended, Bard bounced around between the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals organizations but never found his way back into an MLB park.
Instead, he seemed to develop some yips on the mound, losing control of his pitches along the way and, briefly, his career.
Bard, who could touch 100 mph with his fastball, retired in 2017 and joined the Arizona Diamondbacks a few months later as a player mentor.
But his time off the mound gave his body a chance to reset and the Rockies gave him an opportunity to prove it further with a minor league deal in February. When MLB went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the 6’4″, 197-pound Houston native continued to put in work and use the extra time to fine-tune his comeback.
The former first-round pick out of North Carolina explained what’s changed to MassLive’s Chris Cotilloon The Fenway Rundown podcast in May:
“The way I feel now trumps anything I felt from 2012 to 2017 when I retired. It’s hard to describe. It just feels-throwing and pitching feels natural. It feels fun. Body feels free and easy. That’s not to say there’s not still challenges. I have some good days and some not-so-good days. But at the same time, the overall feeling is just like, ‘This is what throwing a baseball is meant to feel like.’ It’s the way I felt for my first three years in Boston. It’s the way I felt in college and coming up through the minor leagues for the first part. When I stumbled onto that feeling, I couldn’t deny it.”
The right-hander will resume his MLB career with a lifetime 3.67 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 252 strikeouts and 121 walks in 257.1 innings pitched.
He’ll look to help the Rockies return to the playoffs after a streak of back-to-back postseason appearances was snapped in 2019.