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Bard, Perez win comeback player of year awards

Rockies reliever Daniel Bard and longtime Royals catcher Salvador Perez are this year’s recipients of the NL and AL Comeback Player of the Year awards.

Bard, 35, was a touted Red Sox prospect who saw his major league career in Boston derailed by control issues that ultimately led him to retire in 2017.

He took a job as a player mentor and mental skills coach for the Diamondbacks, a role that saw him at times shag fly balls and play catch during warm-ups. While doing so, Arizona players were awed by his throws and questioned why he wasn’t still pitching.

Bard got back on a mound in January in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was throwing in the mid-90s — a velocity he said he hadn’t seen in years. It led to a minor league contract with the Rockies, who added him to their big league roster when baseball resumed in July. He made his debut on July 25, throwing a scoreless 1⅓ innings and earning the win — his first since 2012 — against the Rangers.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the seven-year, 89-day gap between major league appearances was the sixth-longest for a pitcher since 1969.

In all, the right-hander went 4-2 with six saves and a 3.65 ERA in 23 appearances.

Perez, 30, missed the 2019 season after having Tommy John surgery, but returned with a bang in the shortened ’20 campaign. The 2015 World Series MVP hit a career-best .333 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 37 games. His career-high .633 slugging percentage was the second-highest in Royals history, trailing only George Brett (.664 in 1980). And he became just the third catcher since 1900 to record multihit games, including an extra-base hit, in six consecutive contests (Sept. 11-18).

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