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Seven-year pitch. Daniel Bard on big league roster for first time since 2013

Reliever completes improbable journey, makes Rockies roster
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Posted at 11:54 AM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 13:54:34-04

DENVER -- Done. Finished. Through.

Dreams carry expiration dates, and Daniel Bard had reached his in baseball. After bouncing around from minor league stops, the once top prospect retired and began a career as a mental skills coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He wanted to help other pitchers who have experienced the yips, who have suddenly become naked on the mound, a place that forever provided a sanctuary.

While playing catch with Diamondbacks players in the middle of last season, everything changed. They raised their eyebrows and told him the ball was "coming out good."

Now, consider his story the Seven-Year Pitch.

For the first time since 2013, Daniel Bard is on a big league roster, told Friday he had made the Rockies after they released disappointing veterans Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee.

From long toss to winter bullpen sessions to solid outings in Coors Field intrasquad games, Bard pulled off the improbable.

"I finally didn't have the pressure of throwing strikes. I knew it felt better playing catch. They said I should give it another shot," Bard said Friday. "It put a seed in my head. I wanted to see what it felt like to get on a mound again. But I would have probably given myself a 1% shot. I started throwing strikes, and I was like, 'I have to give this serious consideration.'"

For Bard, Friday represented a pinch-me moment. More than 200 text messages lit up his phone from former teammates to players he helped provide a lighthouse in the darkness.

Bard had many opportunities to sign with teams even after the last few years, but admitted, "I never felt comfortable. I wasn't confident in what I was doing on the field and so much of my identity was tied up into that."

Bard, who once threw 100 miles per hour and remains in the mid 90s, hasn't thought about his role. He hasn't contemplated -- at least not yet -- what it will feel like to return to a big league game since his career derailed with the Red Sox as dissolved from a lights out reliever to a failed starter.

However, the 35-year-old did reflect on his road back. It was paved with support from his wife Adair.

"I get emotional talking about it. She was there the whole time," said Bard, who broke into the big leagues in as a 23-year-old in 2009. "She kept encouraging me to continue if it's what I wanted."