SEATTLE -- The cuts and bruises catcher Josh Bard sustained in an automobile accident three weeks ago are getting better each day. But the biggest scar remains.
The death of his best friend will hurt forever.
"I am trying to move forward the best I can," Bard said in a telephone interview from his Denver-area home. "But it's tough, real tough."
Three days after returning to his offseason home in Colorado following the Mariners' regular-season finale at Safeco Field on Oct. 3, Bard and his longtime friend Pat McKendry, along with McKendry's 21-year-old son Clancy, embarked on what was supposed to be a one- or two-day antelope hunting trip in eastern Colorado on land owned by former Major League pitcher Scott Elarton.
The first hunting trip of the fall started early and ended tragically.
"It was about 5:30 in the morning and we were on an old country road that wasn't well-marked," Bard recalled. "It was tough to see. I have run the accident through my head about 50,000 times wondering if we could have done anything different. It truly was just an accident."
According to the Colorado State Patrol, Clancy McKendry was driving a blue Ford F-150 and was heading eastbound on Country Road T. He started to turn onto Country Road 23 when he apparently lost control on a curve. The truck rolled several times and came to rest on its roof.
Pat McKendry, who was sitting in the rear of the truck, was ejected and pinned underneath the truck. He was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene. Both Bard, also a passenger in the car, and Clancy McKendry, were wearing seat belts and had minor injuries.
"It happened so fast," Bard said. "We rolled over a couple of times and I have never felt so out of control when we were rolling in that thing. I felt like a rag doll. We were upside down when [the truck] stopped. I had a bump on my head and was bleeding from other cuts.
"I kept trying to unlock the seat belt, but we were upside down and I kept clicking the wrong side. There was glass everywhere. The front windshield and door windows were all shattered. I finally got the seat belt unfastened, crawled out and started yelling for Clancy and Pat.
"Clancy was already out of the car and he yelled back. We both yelled for Pat, but didn't hear anything from him. We started to look for him and that's when we found him under the truck. It was a tough deal. We called 911, but we were out in the middle of nowhere and it took time for someone to get there, but he pretty much died on impact. There was nothing anyone could do."
Bard was taken to a hospital for treatment on the minor injuries that will not affect his playing career. He will become a free agent soon after the World Series.
But baseball is the least of his concerns right now and he recalled the too-short friendship he had with Pat McKendry.
"We met at church about nine years ago and became really, really good friends," Bard said. "We were golfing and hunting buddies, and he would help drive cars to Spring Training so my wife and kids could fly out."
He said the annual trek was "our golfing trip."
"I miss Pat every day and it hasn't gotten any easier," Bard said. "I will never forget him. My faith is extremely important in my life and I know God has a plan. It could have been me in the back seat with the seat belt unbuckled.
"I have done that before, and how many times do we ride to a ballpark in the back of a cab without the seat belt buckled?"
Those are some of the things Bard said he thinks about.
Pat McKendry was married and the father of four children, ages 21, 19, 16 and 14.
"Something like this puts everything in perspective," Bard said. "I am trying to invest in his wife and kids' lives and do the best I can to be around for the long haul for them. They have been family friends for years and it's sad.
"We made a pact years ago that no matter what happened to either of us, the other would be there over the long haul. Obviously, I can't replace Pat and be their father or Carol's husband, but I can do the best I can to help them through this tragedy.
"The thing that has been weighing down on me is I don't want to waste any more days. We are not promised tomorrow and it was just Pat's time. God has a plan and when I was flipping in that car, it just wasn't my time. That's the only way I can explain it."
His life, meanwhile, has been changed.
"It sounds corny, but you want to celebrate life and live it to the fullest," he said. "I know for myself that we worry about a lot of stuff that aren't really important.
"I feel grateful that I had my seat belt on and am able to keep going, but I think it was his time and that's the only way I can move forward on this because it's definitely heartbreaking to see Carol and the kids go through this. We love them a lot and we all miss Pat every day.
"Like I said, for some reason, God has allowed me to keep going and I don't want to waste it. I definitely think the next time I go on a baseball field I will have more fun than I usually do when you have the worries of the game and you are trying to achieve and produce and do all those things.
"Those aren't bad things, but at times I think we forget that putting on a uniform and being able to play a game is nothing compared to looking down and seeing cuts all over my hands and stuff. I was very fortunate to come of that with just a sore neck and some cuts and bruises.
"I know this: I won't take anything in life for granted ever again."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.