Red Sox

Former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard details his battle with anxiety

"I want to use my story to just give hope for people to get through really hard things."

Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard (52) in the 10th inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Denver. The Rockies won 6-5.
Daniel Bard has been orchestrating a career renaissance for years now with the Rockies. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Daniel Bard has been orchestrating a career renaissance for years now.

A young shutdown reliever for the Red Sox in 2010 and 2011, Bard’s career took a major turn due to severe control issues on the mound.

He last pitched for Boston in 2013, eventually bouncing around different organizations — and even retiring in 2017 — before charting a comeback in 2020.

Since signing a minor-league deal with Colorado that spring, Bard has emerged as an effective late-inning option for the Rockies. He won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2020 before posting a 1.79 ERA over 57 appearances in 2022.

But following a rough outing with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic in March, Bard has spent the first few weeks of the 2023 campaign on the injured list due to anxiety.


As he nears a return to pitching, Bard has been candid about his struggles that go far beyond any physical limitation or ailment.

“I was going through that for so long, and there’s not much out there,” Bard said in a feature piece penned by Gordon Edes. “Like, most people don’t ever come back from this, and that’s not what you want to hear when you’re going through anything like that. So for me being able to get to the other side maybe can be motivation for some people. 

“It may suck right now, what you’re going through, but things will change. And this, too, shall pass, whatever you want to call it.”

Bard went on the IL shortly after a disastrous relief outing against Venezuela during WBC play, fracturing Jose Altuve’s thumb with a wild pitch while also giving up two walks. He relinquished four runs without getting an out.

“I want to use my story to just give hope for people to get through really hard things, especially in sports,” Bard said in Miami before his outing. “But also people outside of sports and different areas, different walks of life. Different professions where they hit a roadblock and feel like they lost their ability to do something they’re supposed to be good at.


“I don’t necessarily have clear-cut, take-this-pill kind of solutions, but I do have a lot of things I know helped me and are a piece of the healing process for me.”

As Edes noted, Bard’s willingness to discuss his mental health and the hurdles he’s faced has allowed for more conversation and action across the league.

Last week, Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows was also placed on the injured list due to anxiety.

“I hope he’s getting what he needs,” Bard told reporters. “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 it that way.

“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 added. “The more guys who do that, the more it will become normal, just like a guy who hurts his hamstring or elbow.”


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