Daniel Paul Bard
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 195 lb.
- School University of North Carolina
- High School Charlotte Christian High School
- Debut May 13, 2009
- Final Game April 27, 2013
- Born June 25, 1985 in Houston, TX USA
Pitcher Daniel Bard played five seasons for the Boston Red Sox. He was known to throw his fastball in the high 90s and made his major league debut with the team in 2009, but after initial success struggled badly starting in 2012.
Bard was drafted in the 20th round of the 2003 amateur draft by the New York Yankees but did not sign. He played college ball at the University of North Carolina and posted a 23-12 record with a 3.86 ERA in three seasons there. As a freshman, he was 8-4 with a 3.88 ERA and made the Baseball America Freshman All-America second team alongside teammate Andrew Miller. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and made the All-Conference team, the only freshman to do so that season.
In 2005, Daniel faded to 7-5, 4.22. Bard had a 9-4, 3.64 record in his junior season. In his first start of the 2006 College World Series, he was knocked up for five runs and 12 hits. He then got the call for UNC in the finale of the Series against Oregon State University and allowed 6 hits, 3 runs (one earned) and a walk in 7 2/3 IP.
Minor league career
He was selected by the Boston Red Sox with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft (compensation for the loss to free agency of Johnny Damon). He was signed by scout Jeff Zona and made his pro debut the following year with the Lancaster JetHawks.
Bard was 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA in 5 games for Lancaster, walking 22 and allowing 21 hits in just 13 1/3 IP. He was demoted to the Greenville Drive, where he had a 3-5, 6.42 record in 17 starts, walking almost a batter per inning. His 27 wild pitches tied Jared Hughes for third in the affiliated minors, only two shy of the lead.
Moving to the bullpen in 2008, Daniel improved. He was 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA for Greenville, giving up only 12 hits and 4 walks in 28 innings while striking out 43. Promoted to the Portland Sea Dogs, he went 4-1 with 7 saves and a 1.99 ERA. In 49 2/3 IP, he struck out 64 and gave up a .173 average. Baseball America rated him as the #9 prospect in the Eastern League, between J.P. Arencibia and Austin Jackson.
Bard opened 2009 with the Pawtucket Red Sox, going 1-0 with 6 saves and a 1.13 ERA in 11 games. He fanned 29 and allowed only 6 hits in 16 innings. He was then called up to The Show to replace Javier López on the roster.
Bard debuted in the majors on May 13, 2009. He relieved Hunter Jones with a 7-4 deficit in the 6th against the Los Angeles Angels, two on and none out. He fanned Mike Napoli on three pitches, gave up a sacrifice fly, then got Howie Kendrick on a grounder. In the 7th, he got Erick Aybar on a grounder. Chone Figgins singled, but Reggie Willits popped up. Bobby Abreu drew a full count walk, then Bard recovered to get Torii Hunter to hit into an inning-ending force. Takashi Saito replaced him on the hill. He continued to pitch out of the Bosox bullpen after that successful first stint, going 2-2, 3.65 in 49 games, then pitched three perfect innings in the ALDS as the Red Sox were swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Bard began 2010 as the set-up man for Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon. He pitched in 73 games, maintaining a sparkling 1.73 ERA, with a record of 1-2 and 3 saves. He struck out 76 batters in 74 2/3 innings, while walking 30 and giving up a mere 45 hits (a .176 opponent average). He tied Joba Chamberlain for 5th in the 2010 AL in appearances. He continued in the same role in 2011 and put up another solid season, although his won-loss record was only 2-9. That was in spite of a 3.33 ERA and only 45 hits allowed in 73 innings, against 74 strikeouts. He held opponents to a .179 average. He again tied a Yankee reliever for 5th in the AL in games pitched, this time David Robertson. He just seemed to be unlucky in close games, in contrast to his bullpen-mate Alfredo Aceves, who went 10-2 with a better ERA but quite similar rate stats overall.
Long-time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon left the team as a free agent before the 2012 season. While it would have seemed natural for Bard to inherit the job, the new team brass of GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine decided otherwise, opting to move Daniel to the starting rotation as a way of maximizing his value. The transition did not go very smoothly however, as he lost his first two starts of the year and the bullpen struggled. He picked up a win in an unscheduled relief outing on April 23rd, but the team confirmed that plans were still to use him as a starter. He did win his first game in that role in his next start, on April 27th, then struggled to find his consistency over the next month. On June 3rd, he had a nightmarish game against the Toronto Blue Jays, during which he issued 6 walks and hit two opposing batters in 1 2/3 innings; he allowed only one hit, but it was a three-run homer by Jose Bautista. He was charged with his team's 5-1 loss, all of the runs being charged to him, bringing his record on the year to 5-6, 5.24 in 11 games, with more walks than strikeouts. Two days later, the Red Sox decided to option him to AAA Pawtucket to allow him to work out his control issues. Used as a reliever, he went 3-2 in 31 games for Pawtucket, with a 7.03 ERA. His control was still erratic, as he issued 29 walks in 32 innings. In spite of his struggles, he was called back to Boston on August 30th, with the plan being to have him return to his former set-up role. He pitched six more times that season, but all it did was raise his season's ERA to 6.22.
Bard was still struggling with his control in spring training in 2013, so the Red Sox decided to send him to AA to relieve some of the pressure and allow him to work things out. However, they needed bullpen help in late April and decided to call up Bard, but his second outing against the Houston Astros on April 29th was truly dreadful, as he couldn't locate any pitches near the strike zone and left after walking both batters he faced. He quickly returned to Portland, but did not do any better. He was 0-1, 6.39 after 13 games, having issued 17 walks in 12 2/3 innings when the Sox decided to place him on the disabled list, hoping that perhaps some extended rest would help him find his old self, as there was nothing physically wrong with him. He stayed out until late August, when he was given a few rehabilitation outings in the lower minors, two with the GCL Red Sox and one with the Lowell Spinners. He walked 10 batters in 2 2/3 innings in the three games and on September 1st, he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox.
Back to the Minors
There was something physically wrong with him, however. He was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that compresses the nerves near his ribcage, and underwent surgery in January of 2014. He signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers that season, but the results were disastrous. In four June appearances with the Class A Hickory Crawdads, he gave up 13 runs in two-thirds of an inning, for an ERA of 175.50, one of the highest ever in the history of organized baseball. In January of 2015, he signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs, hoping to make a comeback. However, he did not pitch at all in 2015, and when he returned in 2016, he was once again completely wild. With the Palm Beach Cardinals of the St. Louis Cardinals organization that year, he walked 13 batters in 3 innings and put up an ERA of 24.00 in 8 games. The story was similar in 2017, split between the Springfield Cardinals and GCL Mets: he walked a whopping 24 batters in 9 1/3 innings, leading to 14 runs and an ERA of 13.50. This was the result of issues that were apparently as much mental as physical. Acknowledging the inevitable, he let word out the following winter that he was retiring from the game.
Daniel's younger brother is Luke Bard, a right-handed pitcher who was drafted by Boston in the sixteenth round of the 2009 Amateur Draft. Luke opted to play for Georgia Tech instead and was a first round selection in the 2012 Amateur Draft. His father, Paul Bard, also played minor league ball in the 1980s in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles chains. His grandfather Fran O'Brien was head coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and College of the Holy Cross. His uncle Kevin O'Brien played minor league baseball. His cousin is John Andreoli.
- Matthew Kory: "Daniel Bard: A Cautionary Tale", Sports on Earth, June 30, 2013.