Taking Control

New approach gives Daley new results





ST. LOUIS—Since his selection in the third round of the 2006 draft, righthander Gary Daley Jr. carried the reputation of having some of the best stuff in the Cardinals system. It was just difficult to see it through flighty mechanics and irregular command.

That is, until he found consistency through calmness.

"I became more consistent with everything," Daley said. "My control. My mechanics. I would say everything that you need to do have to pitch became more consistent for me. Before, I lost everything when I lost control."

Daley, 24, had an 8.03 ERA in 10 relief appearances at the Arizona Fall League, but his overall numbers were skewed by one appearance when he gave up seven runs and recorded just one out. Otherwise, he showed in Arizona what he hinted at in the final stages of the season with Double-A Springfield, where he went 0-2, 4.76 in nine relief appearances. Hidden beneath the record was the real sign of his improvement: In August, opponents hit .189 against him and walked just six times in 12 innings.

That's a significant drop from the 36 walks—against six strikeouts—that he had in 13 innings in 2008. Or the 62 walks he had in 72 innings in 2007.

The wildness was partially due to eagerness, Daley said. In addition to maturing and shedding his anxiety on the mound, he also met with sports psychologists to help him channel, harness and understand his nerves. He described how he used to be on the mound and the baseball "felt like a water balloon in my hand. I had no feel and it was heavy."

"I knew I had the tools to do things," Daley said. "I really had to make the choice to be calm, to realize it wasn't a life and death situation, that it was a game, and it should be fun."

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Among the video clips that new Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire has been dissecting in preparation for spring training are those from young hitters Colby Rasmus, Tyler Greene and David Freese. Rookie Freese will get a full opportunity to win the starting third base job in spring training.

• The four players the Cardinals sent to Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program could make their major league debuts in 2010, starting with outfielders Jon Jay and Allen Craig. The other two were catcher Bryan Anderson and righthander Francisco Samuel.