30 Players in 30 Days: Collin Balester

Collin Balester 99.JPGCollin Balester no longer has a
mustache that could be confused for a squirrels nest but he is rocking a Grizzly Adams offseason beard. As he put it, “It feels like a very high turtle neck of human hair.” Balester is the type of person who would casually wear a turtle neck and not just to an ugly-Christmas sweater party. He is the same person who asked to wear No. 99 this spring, a number not even reserved for players who will never make the team. He finally got his wish this season and brazenly said in Spring Training, “I got 99 problems but a pitch ain’t one.” One pitch for Balester has never been a problem but many pitches in one game became a problem.

He didn’t pitch well at Spring Training and went 1-3 with an 11.65 ERA in five starts with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. He struggled with his control, fell behind early in counts, walked batters and just couldn’t get batters out. Something had to change. Balester was converted to a reliever and it might have saved his career. He can now just focus on one inning and one batter at a time. He became more aggressive with his fastball that now reaches the mid-90s and his stuff became more effective with shorter stints.

He was called up in September for the third time in 2010 and made a lasting impression. He posted a 1.35 ERA (2 ER/ 13.1 IP) with 16 strikeouts and a .136 BAA (6-for-44). He still struggled with his control at times, walking seven batters. And while he was never pitching in pressure situations, he regained his confidence when he stands on the mound.

“I’ve learned more about pitching coming out of the bullpen than I ever have,” Balester said. “It’s just going out there and pounding the strike zone. You really feel the heat when you go out there and walk guys. When I’m able to throw strikes, my curveball got a lot better this year, and it’s a better one-two punch. If I throw strikes and get to that curveball, it’s a little easier that way, instead of having it be 2-0. These guys can hit 100 miles per hour in this League. If you get ahead of these guys, you can pitch with your best stuff. That’s what’s been working.”

Balester made the most of role reversal and it appears it will be his spot to lose in the bullpen this spring.

On a much different note, the mind of Collin Balester is a mysterious and puzzling place. We won’t try to be Sigmund Freud and dive into it but we always like keeping up with Balester. He makes it pretty simple too. He is a social network addict–aren’t we all though? Now that the season is over, he has a lot of time to update his twitter account. He tweets as often as ESPN breaks news about Brett Favre.

See for yourself the philosophical and informative pearls of wisdom bestowed by Balester:

“Cooking class was a success. But I just want to go to eating class haha. My wife cooks I eat and clean.” about 11 hours ago

“It sorta feels like a tornado hit a volcano out here in california. Don’t really know what that means ask @eminem. It’s feels pretty good.” 4:06 p.m. Oct. 25th

“Crushing NHL 11 online like it’s my day job.” 10:03 a.m. Oct. 25th

“I was watching the phillies giants game in the mirror at the gym and Halladay and lincecum would make siiiiick lefties. Wow” 10:48 p.m. Oct. 21st

“Brushing your teeth 2 times back to back is like the best thing ever. At the best store ever right now ikea.” 4:20 p.m. Oct. 20th

“Offseason beards are so money. Feels like a very high turtle neck of human hair.” 7:31 p.m. Oct. 16th

I dropped my phone the first try at taking a pic of that spider because it jumped at me a little. So I learned my lesson with mother nature” 10:28 p.m. Oct. 15th

“6 pounder” http://plixi.com/p/50688260 12:02 a.m. Oct. 15th

“Why is it that every hole number 10 I get like 10 plus on??” 2:59 p.m. Oct. 14th

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