Colorado Rockies pitcher Daniel Bard throws in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Bard was pitching in his first major league game since 2013, and earned his first victory since May 29, 2012, with the Boston Red Sox. AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray said it best.

“Only in a movie, right?”

Except that the fantastical tale of relief pitcher Daniel Bard is 100 percent true.

Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Ballpark in Arlington, Texas – 2,646 days after he had last appeared in a major league game – the 35-year-old Bard relieved Gray in the fifth inning. Bard pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in Colorado’s 3-2 win over the Rangers.

It was Bard’s first win since May 29, 2012, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Boston Red Sox and beat Justin Verlander’s Detroit Tigers.

Bard admitted that the adrenaline was pumping through his veins but he proved he could handle the magnitude of the moment.

“This is what I was meant to do,” he said. “It’s the same thing with the physical effects going on. Your heart rate is up and the adrenaline’s pumping. But you can adjust your perspective on what’s going on, and that makes that feeling either a really positive thing, where it helps you, or a really negative thing, where it crushes you.

“That wasn’t something I learned overnight. It’s taken practice and it’s taken a lot of intentional work on my part.”

Bard, who suffered through a confounding case of the yips that seemingly ruined his career, had not pitched in a major-league game since April 27, 2013, with Boston. Saturday, show no signs of stage fright, he unleashed a sharp slider and a 99 mph fastball to get Elvis Andrus to pop out to left to end the fifth inning.

Manager Bud Black sent Bard back out for the sixth, and although Bard he gave up singles to Joey Gallo and Todd Frazier, Bard hung tough, getting Willie Calhoun to fly out to left and securing Colorado’s 2-1 lead.

“I got Daniel near the end of the dugout and he said three words: ‘That was fun,'” Black said.
That’s exactly that attitude that enabled Bard to rediscover himself as a pitcher and turn his comeback dream into reality.

“These games are important, but also at the end of the day you’re still playing a game,” Bard said.

“And I think the guys who are able to take that mindset into each and every day, despite the pressure, despite the industry, despite the amount of money that can be made in this game, you still go out and just play the game every day. … It took me a while to fully grasp that, I think.”

Bard, who signed with the Rockies before spring training after trying out for scouts in Scottsdale, Arizona, is more than just a feel-good story. He’s showing signs that he can be a viable part of Colorado’s rebuilt bullpen. Saturday, he threw 20 of his 25 pitches for strikes and unleashed a well-located fastball that ranged between 95-99 mph. He also threw some wicked sliders.

“I think he’s going to be a big part of the staff here,” Black said. “You saw some fastballs with some life and a couple of good, sharp breaking balls. Today was a great start and I’m happy for him. I mean, what a great story.”


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