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
Minnesota «001010000270
Kansas City000000001153
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:K.Gibson(9-8) L:J.Shields(9-6) S:G.Perkins (26)
HR: MIN- None KAN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

LA Angels - LP: C. Rasmus 6 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: R. Webb 7
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 11 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 4
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 3
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 0
Milwaukee - LP: W. Smith 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 5
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake 3
Colorado 3 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
NY Yankees 12 Bottom 8th Inning
Texas 8
Minnesota 2 Bottom 9th Inning
Kansas City 1
Oakland 7 Bottom 9th Inning
Houston 4
Atlanta 3 Top 3rd Inning
Los Angeles 2
St. Louis 0 Top 4th Inning
San Diego 1
Pittsburgh 3 Bottom 4th Inning
San Francisco 1
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Connecticut 80 FINAL
Atlanta 89
Washington 76 FINAL
New York 80
Chicago 74 FINAL
San Antonio 92
Seattle 74 FINAL
Tulsa 80
Los Angeles 45 3rd Qtr 3:20
Phoenix 60
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: Should the Twins replace Ron Gardenhire?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close
Cole De Vries