Daniel Bard Overcame Steve Blass Disease Before Making the Majors

Daniel Bard Overcame Steve Blass Disease Before Making the Majors Daniel Bard appears to be next in line to take over the closing duties for the Red Sox — but as recently as two years ago, it didn’t seem like Bard would ever get his shot in the majors.

NESN baseball analyst Peter Gammons told Tom Caron on Red Sox Hot Stove that Bard had to overcome Steve Blass Disease — a diagnosis used for players that lose the ability to throw the ball accurately — in 2007.

Former MLB players Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, Mackey Sasser as well as current Kansas City Royal Rick Ankiel are among those who suffered from this disease. Sax and Knoblauch struggled throwing from second base to first base while Sasser was a catcher who had a tough time throwing the ball back to his pitcher. Ankiel, a former pitcher, couldn’t throw strikes so was moved to the outfield, where he has developed into a solid power hitter.

“In 2007 [Bard] basically couldn’t throw a strike and he had essentially Steve Blass Disease,” Gammons said. “He came back and Harvey Dorfman, the great psychologist, has long said that no pitcher ever comes back from that. Well, he has and it’s a credit to Daniel, it’s a credit to [Red Sox director of player development] Mike Hazen and all the people [like former major league pitcher and current sports psychologist] Bob Tewksbury in the organization. His stuff is so good. Alex Rodriguez told me has the best fastball he has ever seen.”

Now that Bard has proven himself as a force out of the Boston bullpen, expectations are high for a relief staff that also includes Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez. After finishing second in bullpen ERA in 2009, Gammons believes this ‘pen can be just as good as last season’s.

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