Daniel Bard failed to regain his accuracy. But it appears he’s finally found clarity.
Bard is retiring from baseball, the former Boston Red Sox reliever told SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo in an article published Thursday. The 32-year-old pitched five seasons at the major league level, all with the Red Sox, and spent the last four years on various minor league assignments.
His last professional appearance came on July 2 for the New York Mets’ Gulf Coast League affiliate. He allowed four runs in just two thirds of an inning, walking four and hitting two batters.
“Some days would be great, and some days… the results just weren’t there,” Bard told Cotillo. “I ran into enough of those days where I said, ‘Is this really worth me being away from my family?’ Once that answer was no, it was a really easy decision for me to decide to come home.”
Bard’s baseball career was a bizarre journey of peaks and valleys. Selected 28th overall by the Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s 2006 draft, Bard reached the big leagues in 2009 as a hard-throwing right-handed reliever.
He hit his zenith in 2010, posting a blistering 1.93 ERA as Jonathan Papelbon’s setup man while striking out 76 batters in 74 2/3 innings pitched. He didn’t allow a single earned run from May 23 to Aug. 2, a scoreless streak of 26 1/3 innings.
It was all downhill from there, though. After Bard struggled with his control late in the 2011 campaign, new manager Bobby Valentine tried to convert him to a starter in 2012. But Bard’s struggles only worsened, as he walked 43 batters in just 59 1/3 innings pitched.
Bard completely lost his control in 2013, getting designated for assignment on Sept. 1. He never returned to the majors, bouncing around between the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Mets but failing to recapture the control that made him so effective in 2010.
“It was kind of just a perfect storm of the physical issue (a mild case of thoracic outlet syndrome) and the results taking a turn for the worst quickly,” Bard told Cotillo. “That affected my mental state. I stopped trusting myself and trusting what I was doing. I started getting into just figure-it-out-and-fix-it mode, which is never a good place for a pitcher to live.”
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