Steve Blass Disease. It is to control what Tommy John surgery is to shoulders. Bad news. The disease is a sudden loss of throwing control and can be found in positional players, also. That section is listed under the DSM-5 of baseball as “The Steve Sax Syndrome.” Old timers use the term “The Yips” to describe it.
What happens is difficult to fathom. Why does a highly successful professional baseball player suddenly have the inability to make a simple throw? What happens to cause a fundamentally sound Chuck Knoblauch to force ticket holders in the vicinity of first base to wear batting helmets? Pitchers to be unable to locate?
Enter the latest casualty in Daniel Bard. Bard rose to prominence quickly and was viewed as both a potential shut down closer or a starter. Then it happened. The plate became postage stamp size and the rest history. A Boston answer to Dontrelle Willis.
In 2012 Bard disintegrated. With Boston and Pawtucket, Bard approached a walk an inning and constantly pitched behind on the count, a recipe for being a pitching piñata. 2013 showed more regression at Portland, and finally the plug was pulled and Bard sent to rehabilitation camp at the team complex in Florida.
Bard now has resurfaced with an appearance in the Gulf Coast League. One inning and one walk. His first time on the bump since May 15 in Portland. The Sox still have him on the roster. Why?
In 2007, Bard’s first season, he was a danger to all who faced him. In 75 innings he issued 78 walks and had a WHIP on excess of 2. Then in 2008 he was the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year. He has been this route before.
So they wait. His arm and stuff can be electric. I’m sure the Red Sox have had a virtual battalion of pitching experts attempt to solve what may be the unsolvable. What happens next is up to both Bard and the Red Sox.