While watching the Braves-Nationals game on the MLB Network, I learned that the Texas Rangers had released pitcher Daniel Bard.
At one time, Bard was an outstanding reliever for the Boston Red Sox. Between 2009-2011, he was the eighth inning set up man for Jonathan Papelbon.
Of course, the Red Sox collapsed late in 2011. Terry Francona departed and was replaced by Bobby Valentine. We all know that led to a last place finish in 2012. One of the contributing factors to that debacle was Valentine’s decision to put Bard into the starting rotation. Bard suddenly lost his velocity and then rapidly lost his control. By June, he was demoted to Pawtucket where he would remain for the rest of the year.
While Bard did get a World Series ring with the Red Sox last year, he only pitched two games for the big league club and spent most of the year shuttling between their minor league affiliates in Portland, Maine, Lowell and even in the Gulf Coast League. The Red Sox would eventually put Bard on waivers and he would be claimed by the Chicago Cubs although he would never appear in uniform with them.
In February, the Rangers took a chance on Bard. The Rangers assigned Bard to the Hickory Crawdads, their A ball affiliate in the South Atlantic League. In four appearances, Bard gave up 13 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. He walked nine batters and plunked seven of them. Unfortunately for Bard, he can’t hit. Otherwise maybe he could have pulled a Rick Ankiel and moved to the outfield. His baseball career is over less than a week away from his 29th birthday.
On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Bard is still a young man and has his health. While losing his baseball skills is a lot to take for any player, Bard is not a man without options. Unless he spent all his money, he is in a position to pursue an education, start a business or charitable organization. It is no doubt difficult to abruptly close a book on a chapter. But a clean slate can be started with a single turn of a page.
With that I wish Daniel Bard good luck.