Daniel Bard is changing baseball for the better, and the Colorado Rockies have a lot to thank him for as they enter the 2021 season. The team’s closer is on the Injured List, which is usually cause for concern, but in this case, it is a testament to the issues many face and how Bard is tackling the stigma attached to mental health on and off the field.
A former Red Sox All-Star was open about his anxiety when he announced he would be taking time off from the game. It was a meaningful statement that wasn’t lost on anyone who follows the team or baseball. It has opened the conversation about seeking help and destigmatizing mental health issues, which can be incredibly isolating for some. Bard’s decision to speak out has already had a powerful impact on those who relate to his story.
That’s not to say Justin Lawrence, Brad Hand, Pierce Johnson, and Dinelson Lamet, who will take up Bard’s duties while he recovers, aren’t important. The Rockies’ newly formed closer by committee set up is full of unknowns, but there is always a chance one of them will excel and create a name for themselves.
Meanwhile, Kyle Freeland, always an exciting part of the Rockies lineup, made an incredible play on Friday and said he had honed the move as a kid. Jurickson Profar, whose visa issues delayed his 2021 debut, will now take up left field, and former top prospects Zac Veen and Drew Romo have been assigned to double-A.
Of course, none of this comes without its challenges. Fans, speculating about their fantasy teams, can be harsh towards Bard and his decision to publicly embrace his mental health. But hopefully, fans remember that many of their fellow citizens could be facing the same issues as Bard, and it’s important to recognize and support them either way.
The Rockies’ home opener on Thursday offers fans a chance to see their favorite team take the field, and the team’s surrounding area, LoDo, has plenty of offers. For a slice of pizza, head to Ian’s, while those looking for something a bit more upscale can hit up Denver Chophouse or View House. For a more relaxed atmosphere, Cherry Cricket or Sports Column are great options.
Of course, LoDo also has some great coffee shops. If you’re looking for something a little special, Huckleberry and Milk & Honey are a must-visit. Tattered Cover and the National Ballpark Museum are great visits for book lovers, as well as more history.
Daniel Bard’s decision to share his story is setting an example for others to do the same. His courage in choosing to be open about his issues is inspiring, and hopefully it will help others realize it’s ok to seek the help they need. When Bard finally comes back on the field, it will not only be a great moment for the Colorado Rockies, but also for MLB, and for anyone struggling with mental health.