Some extras/goodies from the Darren Balsley story …
Hey gang, in case you missed it, I wrote a story Thursday on Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley.
I feel I’ve developed a good relationship with ‘Bals’ in my seven-plus years covering the team but, before Thursday, had never profiled him in a story.
There’s a good reason for that: Balsley hates talking about himself. And hate, I feel, might be putting it lightly. You want to talk about his pitchers, mechanics, fantasy football, then he’s your guy. But turn the subject and spotlight on him, and he clams up.
Anyway, it was a fun story with some things I just couldn’t squeeze in. Here they are:
— From this last road trip, a tight game in Milwaukee, and Balsley makes a visit to the mound. Let catcher Nick Hundley take it from here:
“They had the bases loaded with one out and Dale [Thayer] is on the mound,” Hundley said. “Bals comes out to the mound and says, ‘here’s what’s going to happen … if you do this one thing, then we are going to get a groundball, double play.’ So Dale executes the pitch [fastball away] and we get a double-play on the first pitch.”
A look of incredulity washes over Hundley’s face as he’s telling the story.
“He actually told us what was going to happen. That’s a pretty cool thing,” Hundley said. “You can allow yourself to be a little excited about that one.
— Some great stuff from Jake Peavy, who had Balsley in the Minors and the big leagues:
“I had a great privilege of being there when Darren and Darrel Akerfelds were there and I had such good friends and two great pitching guys who worked as a team. Those two guys for me were a team. Both mechanically and mentally. As friends, they knew me better than most people knew me and they, obviously, knew my craft so well. They had seen me since I was a kid. Growing, learning, becoming better. I feel like they took pride in that process with me.”
“Darren helped me in every walk of life — off the field, being a man, growing up, having children. Our sons are two days apart and both named Jacob. There are a lot of cool similarities that me and him have. We will be friends until we die.”
“Mentally. Darren has his quirks, we all do. He has different stuff he likes to do that make him feel comfortable. Darren is unbelievably comfortable at coaching the individual and making the individual believe. Sometimes he is even better getting something out of the individual that has never come out because that person never had the confidence or the belief in himself that Darren gives that person.
“Then on that given day to talk you off the ledge, so to speak, and into doing well. Hes just a great baseball mind and great coach.”
— Finally, from Padres bullpen coach Willie Blair, who was a teammate of Balsley’s back in their Toronto days. I asked Blair what kind of pitcher Balsley was”
“Darren was really good,” said Blair, who won 60 games over parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues. “He would have been a big league pitcher had he not gotten hurt. He had a good fastball that cut, a nasty slider and a good curveball. He was very aggressive and could throw his slider for a strike anytime he wanted to.”
— Corey Brock