Daniel Bard's 2020 season was the stuff of baseball legend.
Out of the Major Leagues for seven years, Bard earned a spot on the Colorado Rockies roster during Summer Camp at Coors Field in July and went on to pitch in 23 games and post a 4-2 record with a 3.65 ERA and six saves. In 24-and-two-thirds innings, Bard allowed 22 hits with 27 strikeouts and only 10 walks.
His efforts earned him the National League Comeback Player of the Year award.
"It's so strange to be able to look back and be proud of a season for once," Bard told reporters over Zoom on Saturday, February 20. "It's been a while since I've been able to be proud of a year from start to finish."
The Boston Red Sox selected Bard 28th overall in the 2006 MLB Draft and he broke into the big leagues in 2009.
After three quality years, Bard fell victim to control problems and was out of Major League Baseball after two appearances in 2013.
Seven years later, he signed with the Rockies at the beginning of Spring Training in March of 2020 and after the three-month COVID layoff, showed his old self was back.
Now as Bard begins Spring Training 2021, he does so more ready and more relaxed.
"Last year I kind of did a crash course of trying to get myself back in shape before I showed up here [Scottsdale] and got signed," Bard said. "This year I had the full four months to work out and get after it and add some weight and physically get myself ready for a full season."
Bard's offseason was less hectic this year and he starts Spring Training having added 10-12 pounds.
"I didn't have to worry about impressing teams at a tryout which is what I was getting ready for last year at this time," Bard said. "This year I'm able to take a little bit slower ramp which is probably better for my body. I feel ready, feel strong. There's just not the, 'Hey I gotta be ready to throw 98 on January 20th.' That was kind of nice."
The Rockies would certainly find a repeat of Bard's 2020 season more than kind of nice. He figures to be a big part of a bullpen that is looking for more consistency and more success this year.
Bard's full comments from Saturday are below, along with those of manager Bud Black, starting pitcher Jon Gray and catcher Dom Nunez.