Rockies closer Daniel Bard starts season on IL, cites anxiety; missed 7 MLB seasons due to yips

Colorado Rockies closer Daniel Bard started the MLB season on the 15-day injured list.

Bard — who lost seven seasons of his career while battling the yips — told reporters that his stint on the IL is due to anxiety on and off the field.

"From my experience — knowing myself — I think just taking a step back, taking time to work through things, get it right, is the best approach," Bard said, per's Thomas Harding.

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Bard, 37, is in his fourth season with the Rockies, having spent the past two as the team's primary closer. He joined the Rockies in 2020 following a seven-year hiatus from MLB.

Former first-round draft pick hampered by control issues

Bard started his big-league career with the Boston Red Sox in 2009. A first-round draft pick in 2006, Bard posted a 3.65 ERA as a rookie, then progressed into one of baseball's most effective relievers in his second season, posting a 1.93 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 74.2 innings.

By his fourth season in 2012, control issues took over. Bard's WHIP ballooned to 1.736, from 0.959 the previous season. He posted a 6.22 ERA in 59.1 innings while recording a 38-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He pitched just one MLB inning the following season, then issued 69 walks and 16 HBPs in 19 1/3 innings of minor-league work with multiple organizations. He was seemingly out of baseball for good after 2013.

Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard is being open about dealing with anxiety to begin the season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard is being open about dealing with anxiety to begin the season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Bard returns with Rockies, thrives as closer

Bard returned to MLB with the Rockies as a member of the Opening Day roster for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He picked up a win in his first appearance while throwing 20 of his 25 pitches for strikes. He posted a 3.65 ERA that season and led the team with six saves.


The following season, he recorded a 5.61 ERA with 20 saves in 65.1 innings. In 2022, he showed the stuff that made him an elite prospect to begin with, logging a 1.79 ERA, 34 saves, 69 strikeouts and 25 walks in 60.1 innings. His 0.994 WHIP was the second-best of his career. He even earned some MVP votes.

Control issues resurfaced at WBC

Bard was a member of Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, and his control issues surfaced again during a March 19 game against Venezuela. He took the mound for the fifth inning of the 9-7 USA win, in which he issued two walks, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and allowed a single. He was charged with four runs without recording an out. He walked in one of the runs.

The Rockies didn't specify a timeline or address the reason for Bard's IL stint Thursday. However, Bard opened up while speaking with reporters.


"It’s a hard thing to admit," Bard said, per the Denver Gazette's Danielle Allentuck. "But I’ve been through this before. I have enough going on outside the game to realize what’s important. ...

"I’m extremely grateful to be in an organization that understands these things and is accepting.”

The Rockies called up right-handed pitcher Jake Bird prior to Thursday's game against the San Diego Padres.