Daniel Bard was a first round pick of the Boston Red Sox back in 2006. For a brief period, he looked like a future star. Then it all fell apart and he could never get it back together. Now Bard has called it a career, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
Bard broke into the bigs with the Red Sox in 2009. He was solid that year and spectacular coming out of the Boston pen in 2010, posting a 1.93 ERA in 73 games as the Sox’ primary setup man. At the end of another above average year in 2011, the wheels fell off. He cratered in the final month of that season, just as the Red Sox cratered, missing the playoffs despite being favored to win the AL East. While the “chicken and beer” Red Sox got all of the press, Bard’s poor performance at the end of the season likely had more to do with the team’s poor record than any amount of high profile clubhouse antics did. In 2012 the Red Sox tried to make him a starter, and it did not go well. In 2013 he pitched in only two games. They were the final two games of his major league career.
After being released by the Red Sox he embarked on an odyssey through multiple organizations — he pitched for the Rangers, Cardinals and Mets and was signed by the Cubs but never suited up for any of their affiliates — with often horrific results due to a horrible lack of control. He spent all of 2015 out of professional baseball and when he came back in 2016 and 2017, nothing had really changed. For anyone who enjoyed him pitch when he first came up and imagined that he’d one day profile as an All-Star, his post-2011 journey has been one of the more unfortunate things to watch in all of baseball. Whether it was a mental block, a physical defect or simply a quick and precipitous decline didn’t matter in the end.
Bard tells Cotillo that, in the end, the notion of being away from his family in order to continue to try to make his baseball career work seemed increasingly distasteful, so he hung ’em up. Here’s hoping he finds a happiness and success in retirement that mostly eluded him as a player.