The Colorado Rockies made a late roster move before Opening Day, placing closer Daniel Bard on the disabled list (IL) due to anxiety.
Bard didn’t want to keep it a secret either, telling The Gazette’s Danielle Allentuck that this is something he’s dealt with before in his MLB career.
«It’s kind of hard to admit,» Bard said. «But I’ve been through this before. I’ve had enough off the game to realize what’s important… I’m extremely grateful to be in an organization that understands these things and accepts them.»
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What Bard struggled with in the past was pitch control, or more commonly known in the baseball world as the «yips.»
Bard’s World Baseball Classic game with Team USA is where many believe he started to come back again, especially on the errant fastball that broke Houston Astros star Jose Altuve’s hand while He played for Venezuela.
Bard was one of the most reliable relievers in the game when he broke into MLB with the Boston Red Sox in 2009. However, in 2012, his reliability skyrocketed and control over his stuff was affected by the game.
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After just two appearances with Boston in 2013, Bard didn’t see the majors again until 2020, seven years later. His comeback was a miracle, and after posting a 3.65 ERA in 23 appearances, he was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year.
Bard struggled in 2021 with a 5.21 ERA, but he was one of the best relievers in baseball last season with a 1.79 ERA in 57 outings with the Rockies, racking up 34 saves along the way.
That got him a two-year, $19 million deal to stay in Colorado this offseason, and the Rockies hope to protect their investment by placing him on the disabled list now and trying to get Bard back on track.
Bard isn’t the only major leaguer to be open about «yips.» Former St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel reinvented himself as a baseball player to stay with the big boys after he couldn’t find the strike zone as a pitcher.
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Ankiel ended up going back to the minors after pitching for the Cardinals from 1999 to 2004 to become an outfielder. He would finally get the call back to the bigs in 2007, where he hit .285 in 47 games.
He would end up rebounding in the MLB, but finished with an 11-year career and a .240 batting average in 651 games.
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At 37, Bard doesn’t seem like an option to go Ankiel’s way, but the Rockies are willing to work with him to return their closer to the bullpen as soon as he feels ready.