DENVER — For Colorado Rockies closer Daniel Bard, a step away from the game is giving him a chance to bring awareness to the subject of mental health and anxiety in sports.
The 37-year-old right-hander has not pitched in a game for the Rockies yet this season, starting the year on the injured list with anxiety after three outings in the World Baseball Classic. In Daniel Bard’s final outing against Venezuela, he faced four batters, surrendering a hit, walking two batters, hitting Jose Altuve (and breaking his thumb with the wayward pitch), and uncorking a pair of wild pitches. Bard lasted just 17 pitches, with only seven of those going for strikes.
That outing’s issues caused talk of Bard once again battling the yips back into the conversation, the same issue that forced him from the game as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2013 before finally returning to the mound and earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors with the Rockies in 2020.
Bard has been open and honest about the conversation regarding his anxiety and how he is battling it, on and off the field.
Rockies closer Daniel Bard on anxiety, Austin Meadows and more
As he works his way back into the Rockies bullpen, both physically and mentally, Bard is hoping his message regarding anxiety and how it is viewed in the sports industry is heard, especially after Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows was placed on the injured list on Saturday with anxiety.
“I hope he’s getting what he needs,” Bard said of Meadows. “It takes time to heal, just like any other injury. There’s a process and some time and some therapies for the body, and in my case maybe the mind, to heal a little bit. I think it does work if you give it the right time, right space, and right environment, so hopefully people start looking at that that way.”
Bard believes that accepting there are both physical and mental challenges with the game takes courage to admit.
“I think it’s just enough guys being willing to admit either they’re going through something currently or they come out and say, ‘Yeah, I went through this in the past and I grinded through it and I probably should have taken a little bit of time off,'” Bard said. “The more guys who do that, the more it will become normal, just like a guy who hurts his hamstring or elbow.”
On Tuesday, Bard pitched a session at Coors Field with a hitter in the batter’s box for the first time since the WBC. It’s another step back toward the active roster for the Colorado closer, with no set timetable for his return to the game.