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

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 51 3rd Qtr 7:27
New Orleans 60
Minnesota 48 3rd Qtr 9:17
Oklahoma City 55
Orlando 58 3rd Qtr 8:19
Memphis 75
Boston 13 1st Qtr 2:30
Utah 13
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 35 2nd Half 3:40
Bethune-Cookman 36
Coppin State 56 2nd Half 11:59
NC A&T 55
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 42 2nd Half 10:15
Campbell 56
MD-Eastern Shore 39 2nd Half
Florida A&M 30
Stephen F Austin 58 2nd Half 11:26
Lamar 43
Central Arkansas 48 2nd Half 12:28
New Orleans 65
Norfolk State 50 2nd Half 8:17
Savannah State 39
TX A&M-CC 45 2nd Half 13:30
SE Louisiana 41
Sam Houston St 60 2nd Half 12:37
Abilene Christian 43
McNeese State 74 2nd Half 6:50
Incarnate Word 63
Milwaukee 35 2nd Half 7:49
Valparaiso 61
Alcorn State 21 1st Half 7:40
Alabama A&M 28
Southern U 26 1st Half 9:36
Alabama State 11
Prairie View 20 1st Half 8:20
Ark-Pine Bluff 25
Texas 14 1st Half 9:53
Iowa State 17
Texas Southern 28 2nd Half
Miss Valley St 32
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 11 1st Half 8:42
Auburn 11
(15) Nebraska 22 1st Half 8:09
(20) Iowa 15
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 optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close
Cole De Vries