Rockies closer Daniel Bard will begin the MLB season on the 15-day injured list, The Denver Gazette’s Danielle Allentuck reported Thursday. The team listed Bard on the IL as it announced its Opening Day roster.
Unlike the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, who strained his groin at the World Baseball Classic, Bard is dealing with a different type of fallout from the international tournament. The right-hander says he is dealing with the yips following a tough showing against Venezuela.
“It’s a hard thing to admit,” Bard said of his situation. “But I’ve been through this before. I have enough going on outside the game to realize what’s important … I’m extremely grateful to be in an organization that understands these things and is accepting.”
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On March 18, Bard failed to get an out while facing four batters in a WBC quarterfinal game against Venezuela in Miami. He allowed a hit and two walks and hit Astros All-Star Jose Altuve on the right hand, breaking Altuve’s thumb. Altuve is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season.
Regarding Bard having “been through this before,” he’s speaking of the period from 2013-19, in which he didn’t make an MLB appearance while battling an inability to throw strikes.
Bard, 37, has been open about his struggles in the past, which makes the story of his recovery from them — he posted a 1.79 ERA and was 34 for 37 in save attempts for Colorado last season — all the more compelling.
“Through my struggles I realized life is a lot less organized than we give it credit for,” Bard said in a Sports Illustrated feature in 2020. “This opportunity with the Rockies is really cool, but it’s not going to be permanent. Hopefully it lasts five years, but just enjoy it daily.”
Daniel Bard return timeline
It’s unknown how long it will take Bard to work through his anxiety. It could be weeks or months. He will be eligible to return from the injured list on April 14.
The yips aren’t an uncommon occurrence for MLB pitchers. While they’re often associated with NFL kickers, they’re arguably connected to pitchers the second-most.
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“From my experience, knowing myself, I think just taking a step back, taking time to work through things, get it right, is the best approach,” Bard said, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.
Players going on the injured list for mental health isn’t unheard of, either. Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows missed significant time last season, Zack Greinke has battled social anxiety throughout his career, and Andrelton Simmons left the Angels due to depression before he rejoining the sport with the Twins, an experience about which he has spoken extensively.
The Rockies, it appears, have faith in Bard to work through his anxiety. He has been through this before and, based on his comeback, he has the tools to do it.