Former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard wins NL Comeback Player of the Year

Bard had not pitched in the majors in over seven years after dealing with a bad case of the yips.

Daniel Bard of the Colorado Rockies throws against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning Saturday.
Daniel Bard won the National League Comeback Player of the Year. –Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Daniel Bard’s Major League comeback received the top honors from his colleagues.

The former Red Sox pitcher, who is now with the Colorado Rockies, was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year on Thursday. The award was voted on by the MLB Players Association.

Overcoming the yips, Bard made his return to the majors in 2020 after not pitching in the big leagues for over seven years. The Rockies signed the 35-year-old, who retired from baseball in 2017 after a brief minor league stint with the Mets, to a minor league contract in February after he threw for scouts.

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“When you have that one thing that you’re supposed to be really good at, you’re one of the best in the world and that gets taken from you, you kinda lose your identity,” Bard said in a video announcing the award. “There’s anxiety every time you put a baseball in your hand. You know there’s a lot of things that come with it.”

After the start of the regular season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rockies announced prior to Opening Day in July that Bard’s contract was selected for the 40-man roster.

Bard’s return went so well that he became the Rockies’ closer during the season. He finished the season with a 3.65 earned runs average and six saves in 23 relief appearances.

“I was just hoping for one more chance to compete and play the game,” Bard said. “To be recognized by my peers has to be the highest honor I could imagine and something I never expected when I started this journey.”

Bard was drafted in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Red Sox. He was called up to the big leagues in 2009 and pitched in Boston through 2013 when he was designated for assignment.

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