After self-doubt and frustration, De Vries' perseverance pays off

  • Article by: CRAIG MALVEAUX , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2012 - 11:50 AM

The Gophers product is pitching well for the Twins after gutting out tough times.

Cole De Vries
hide

Cole De Vries

Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

A demotion, struggles to control his emotions and a dwindling bank account drove Cole De Vries to the brink of quitting baseball.

The Twins righthander compiled a combined 8-22 record in Class AA and AAA during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. His confidence diminished, frustration mounted and doubts crept in by the end of the 2010 season, when he was 1-8 with a 5.79 ERA.

"I'm getting to the point where I'm asking myself, 'Do I really want to stick this out, see where this goes?'" said De Vries, the Eden Prairie and Gophers product who was signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent in 2006. "I told my dad that I was on stage one or two of an eight-step process of actually quitting baseball. It's hard playing minor league ball, having a negative bank account every month and putting in all this work and effort and seeing no rewards from it, no monetary rewards."

That was then. Now, De Vries, who will start Friday night against Tampa Bay at Target Field, is solidifying a spot in the Twins rotation. The 27-year-old has surrendered two or fewer runs in five of his seven starts since being summoned from Class AAA Rochester for the second time this season. Oh, and he is brimming with confidence.

"When people doubt you or you're not considered a top prospect, as they call you, you have to outperform people, and when you get a chance, you have to take advantage of it," Twins manager Rod Gardenhire said. "Cole has done a good job. He's given us a lot of quality performances and put himself in a very good position to start in this league."

Losing his composure during his minor league struggles almost led to a completely different career path.

De Vries became so despondent after losses that he would lash out in anger. It started in college and followed him to the minors. Rick Aberman, a Minneapolis-based sports psychologist, has worked with De Vries since the pitcher's junior year with the Gophers in 2006.

"My job was to help him understand that he is choosing to play baseball instead of needing to play baseball," Aberman said. "When we choose to do something, we're less inhibited and more willing to take the risk in order to be successful. When we feel we need to do something, we're not going to take those risks and we don't feel as free. That's what Cole had to understand during that period."

De Vries said his father, Dave, understood why Cole was questioning his future in 2010. Still, Dave made Cole promise to continue playing until the end of the season, and if his performance didn't change, they would "regroup and re-evaluate what was important,'' Cole said.

As the months passed, De Vries pitched well enough to give baseball another chance and well enough to make his return to Rochester in 2011. Pitching almost entirely as a reliever last year, De Vries had a 3.40 ERA in 45 games between Rochester and Class AA New Britain.

He started this season at Rochester, returning to the starting rotation, and with the Twins desperate for starting pitching, he made his major league debut May 24 against the White Sox in Chicago.

"Some people have said that he couldn't make it, so I'm happy for him," Aberman said. "Not everybody with talent makes it.''

When he was sent back to Rochester the first time in June, De Vries worked on his game and quickly got a second opportunity with the Twins.

"Having some of these prior struggles helped me cope with this," he said. "I could either go back to AAA and pout about it, or go back to AAA, learn from that, and move forward."

With the Twins, De Vries is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 12 walks in 59 innings.

Through the highs and lows, De Vries never forgot why he initially pursued this career choice -- he loved playing baseball. And pitching in front of family and friends in the major leagues is extra special.

"It's the absolute epitome of a dream come true," De Vries said.

  • TWINS VS. TAMPA BAY • 7:10 p.m. today • Target Field • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0020320007140
Minnesota010010000272
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:C.Kluber(17-9) L:A.Swarzak(3-2)
HR: CLE- None MIN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close
Cole De Vries