Add another veteran catcher to the list of guys who will be competing for a spot come spring training. Nine-year veteran Josh Bard, 31, signed a minor league deal with the Mariners and will be invited to spring training.
Bard last played for the Washington Nationals in 2009. He’s a switch-hitter who spent much of his early career with the Indians from 2002 through 2005, so he knows Cliff Lee fairly well.
Interestingly enough, his rate of throwing out would-be base stealers hovered between 36 and 44 percent in Cleveland. After that, upon leaving for Boston and later San Diego, it plummeted to between 8 and 20 percent.
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It could be a topic of concern, but I tend to think it was more about the pitchers Bard was catching than his throwing ability suddenly vanishing.
He was the primary catcher for Tim Wakefield for a half-season in Boston — not exactly a recipe for throwing out baserunners since the knuckler takes forever to get to the plate. Then, in San Diego, he got to catch Chris Young and Greg Maddux, two guys known as some of the worst when it comes to slide stepping and holding runners on.
Last season in Washington, his rate got back up to a more respectable 27 percent, as bad as that team and its relatively inexperienced pitchers could be at times. So, I don’t think the low numbers had much to do with Bard. He ain’t no Pudge, but he’s not Jeff Clement circa 2008 either.
He’ll be joined in camp by Eliezer Alfonzo, signed by the team a few weeks ago.
Another signing announced today is Chad Cordero, a former major league closer the team took on as a recclamation project early last March. Cordero worked all year to get his velocity up after surgery in 2008, but it sort of flatlined at one point and never improved to the point where he could get back to the majors. He made 14 relief appearances at rookie level for Peoria and Everett. Still, it can often take a couple of years with these guys so the M’s are giving Cordero another shot.