Daniel Bard’s latest comeback attempt is officially underway. The former Red Sox reliever has agreed to a minor league deal with the Rockies and will had to Major League camp, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported last week that Bard was working toward a comeback.
Now 34 years old, Bard once looked like a potential closer in waiting for the Red Sox. The No. 28 overall pick in the 2006 draft debuted in 2009 and made an immediate impact with a 2.88 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 in his first 197 innings. Control issues arose soon after, though, and spiraled into a full-blown case of the Yips. Bard averaged 6.5 walks per nine innings pitched and posted a 6.22 ERA in 2012, and his career went completely off the rails following that effort.
Bard missed time with an abdominal injury in 2013 and pitched only a combined 16 1/3 innings between the Majors and Triple-A — walking a staggering 27 batters in that span. Winter ball in the 2013-14 offseason and a brief stint with the Rangers in 2014 only confirmed that Bard’s control had vanished; Bard walked 18 of the 31 hitters he faced between the Puerto Rican Winter League and his quick run with the Rangers’ Class-A club. He embarked on comeback attempts with the Cardinals and Mets in 2016-17 but encountered similar results.
With the Rockies, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the righty can tap into the talent that once made him such a well-regarded young pitcher. Colorado’s bullpen has more than its share of highly compensated, underperforming veterans — Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee — but the Rox coaxed varying levels of success out of Scott Oberg, Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz. There should still be a spot or two up for grabs, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the Rockies brought Bard along slowly and eased him back into pro ball with some minor league work before considering him for the big league bullpen.