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Joshua David Bard (born March 30, 1978 in Ithaca, New York) is a catcher for the Boston Red Sox. He played for the Cleveland Indians from 2002 through 2005, until being acquired by the Boston Red Sox on January 27, 2006, along with outfielder Coco Crisp and reliever David Riske, for reliever Guillermo Mota, third-base prospect Andy Marte, and catcher Kelly Shoppach. Bard is a switch-hitter who throws right. He became the Red Sox's backup catcher during spring training 2006 following the retirement of John Flaherty.
At the time, Bard was one of the best catching prospects, and he also played third base occasionally with Triple-A Buffalo.
On August 23, 2002, Bard hit a walk-off home run in his his Major League debut for Cleveland (against Seattle), becoming the second player to accomplish the feat in his ML debut (Billy Parker, CAL, 9/9/71 vs. Milwaukee).
In 2003, Bard posted a .244 average with 8 home runs and 36 RBI in 91 games played. He spent the first half of 2004 on the disabled list due to an abdominal injury, and then spent nearly the rest of the season in the minors. In 2005, he returned to the Indians roster, backing up Víctor Martínez.
As a member of the Boston Red Sox in April 2006, his primary duties were catching knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield. In the beginning of the season, this proved to be a challenging task, as Bard gave up 3 passed balls in his first appearance for the Red Sox on April 5, 2006. In an April 26, 2006, game against the Cleveland Indians, Bard gave up 4 passed balls, giving him a total of 10 passed balls in his first 5 games.
On May 1, 2006, Bard was traded to the Padres along with minor league pitcher Cla Meredith for former Red Sox backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, who was well known for his ability to catch the knuckleball. He made his first appearance for the Padres on May 5, 2006, against the Chicago Cubs.
Upon his arrival in the National League, Bard became one of the best hitters in the major leagues. A lifetime .240 hitter before joining the Padres, Bard hit .338 in 231 at-bats the rest of the season as the backup to Mike Piazza. However, the hot hitting did not continue the following season, when Bard became the Padres' starting catcher, with Rob Bowen as his backup. On June 20, 2007, Bowen was traded to the Chicago Cubs for catcher, Michael Barrett. This significantly cut Bard's playing time.
Bard was behind the plate on August 4, 2007, for a home game against the San Francisco Giants. He was catching for pitcher Clay Hensley when Hensley gave up home run 755 to Barry Bonds, which tied Bonds with Hank Aaron for most career home runs.
Bard became a free agent following the 2008 season. On December 28, 2008, Bard agreed to a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, a non-guaranteed deal worth $1.7 million, with an additional $800,000 in incentives.
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