By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Seven years removed from his last big league appearance, Daniel Bard is back in the show. The Red Sox former set-up man had his contract added to the Rockies 40-man roster on Friday.
Bard’s comeback story is one for the ages, with the North Carolina product going from the depths of minor league baseball, to coaching, and how back to the majors at age 35.
A first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2006, Bard was dominant out of the Red Sox bullpen from 2009 to 2011, regularly throwing 100+ MPH while acting as the eighth-inning bridge to Jonathan Papelbon.
Things started going south for Bard at the end of the 2011 season, when he was a key part of that club’s infamous collapse. In the final month of the season, the North Carolina product went 0-4 with an ERA over 10.
The Red Sox moved Bard into the starting rotation the next year, where he struggled and was sent down to the minors in July. He was released mid-way through the next season.
Bard then bounced around in the minor leagues, including an infamous 2014 stint with the Single-A level Hickory Crawdads. In 18 batters faced over four games, Bard recorded just two outs, walking nine batters and hitting seven. His ERA was well over 100 (he did record a strikeout though).
The righty found himself pitching for the rookie-level GCL Mets in 2017. That level is usually reserved for recent draft picks and international signings, with the oldest players usually in their early 20’s. Bard was 32 at the time.
Bard announced his retirement after the 2017 season, and took a job in player development with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018.
Bard kicked off his comeback attempt in February of this year, throwing for scouts ahead of spring training. The Rockies signed him to a minor league deal, and he was pitching well before the COVID shutdown in March.
Now, Bard will get a chance to prove one of the great baseball cliches true, that “it ain’t over till’ it’s over.” The Rockies begin their season July 24 against the Texas Rangers, one of the four teams Bard pitched for in the minors. Can he complete the comeback story? And who will play him in the movie?