Let me qualify that title with the proclamation that he is still about a billion times better than I am. I’m not sure I could even get a baseball into a catcher’s mitt if my life depended on it.
That being said, the Red Sox have deemed that Daniel Bard is bad enough at baseball that they have shut him down and, for the time being, he will no longer see game action.
Bard last pitched in-game on the 15th of May, in a disaster of an outing against New Hampshire. He surrendered two runs on an astounding five walks in only an inning of work. Boston pitching coach Juan Nieves came on the record after that outing and expressed some concern over Bard’s pitching, as well as his mental condition. Manager John Farrell has similarly expressed concern for Bard, but was quick to eliminate the possibility of an injury. Rather than making gains in the minors, Bard has been regressing from his low point last summer against the Toronto Blue Jays. In just under 13 innings for Portland, the tall righty has given up nearly three walks for every one strikeout.
Many are quick to point out that Bard’s troubles may be the Red Sox’ fault for transitioning him to a starting role to begin the 2012 season, quoting the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument. Sadly for Bard and the Sox, his control issues seemed to begin toward the tail end of the 2011 season, when he was still fireballing out of the bullpen. Starting ball games likely exacerbated these issues, which have now cost Bard the opportunity to pitch in games and relegated him to bullpen sessions.
With luck, Bard can find some magic and get his head screwed back on now that he is not dealing with the pressure that comes with pitching in-game. It’s sad to see this happen to anyone, especially a player on the home town team who had so much potential. But guys have come back from worse issues, so here’s to hoping Daniel Bard can as well.