Daniel Bard completes remarkable comeback seven years after last MLB appearance

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Everyone loves a good comeback story.

They don’t come any better than Daniel Bard’s.

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The 35-year-old right-hander is officially back in Major League Baseball after being named to the Colorado Rockies’ opening day roster on Friday.

Bard’s first appearance in 2020 will mark his first time on an MLB mound since the 2013 season — a span covering seven years and three months. As some have pointed out, that is literally the entirety of Nolan Arenado’s MLB career.

Now, Bard and Arenado will share the field.

From elite to obsolete

In between, Bard bounced around to seven different teams as he attempted to rediscover the form that made him a first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2006. His story serves as a reminder of how quickly the trajectory of a pitcher’s career can change.

In 2011, Bard was seemingly destined to be MLB’s next elite reliever. During one memorable stretch, he set a Red Sox franchise record by making 25 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. One year later, he was struggling to complete one inning without walking a batter. A year after that, he was out of MLB completely.

Bard’s inability to control the strike zone sent his career spiraling. Over the next five years, he walked 111 batters in just 60.2 minor-league innings. That brought his career to a crossroads.

Comeback trail

In 2018, it looked like Bard’s journey ended when he announced his retirement and accepted a coaching position with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

However, the desire to pitch returned and led him to attempt a comeback in 2020. In February, Bard signed a minor-league contract with the Colorado Rockies.

As if the comeback itself wasn’t daunting enough, attempting to do so at Coors Field — baseball’s least friendly ballpark for pitchers — took it to another level. Yet the Rockies saw enough at spring training and summer camp to confidently include Bard on the roster.

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Meanwhile, two highly paid pitchers, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, were both released by Colorado on Friday. Both pitchers were in the final seasons of three-year, $27 million deals.

As a result, the Rockies’ bullpen lacks proven options beyond closer Wade Davis and set-up men Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz. That means Bard could go from the sideline to an important role for a team that relies on its bullpen more than just about anyone.

If he excels, this comeback story might go from extraordinary to legendary.

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