Right-handed pitcher Collin Balester got the call back to the big leagues this weekend - for one game tonight. He joined the Nationals in Milwaukee Saturday.
The 24-year-old Balester has made the transition this season from starter to reliever and he told me he has embraced the change completely.
“It is all about attitude coming out of the bullpen. You have to let it all go. When you get the call out of the pen, you have to be ready to pitch. I come out firing, ready to go right away.”
Balester has gone 1-0, 3.65 ERA in his last 10 appearances, a span of 12.1 innings.
His fastball and curve are working well for him right now.
“My stuff is way better now. My fastball is faster and I have used it very well to pound the (strike) zone. My two-seam fastball is sharper because of my arm slot. My curve is harder and sharper than it used to be. The biggest change has been my attitude.”
Syracuse pitching coach Greg Booker can be credited with changing Balester’s mental attitude in a couple of ways.
“He (Booker) has been huge for me,” Balester explained. “He has helped me with my mental attitude, where my arm slot is today, and I have shortened my stride to the plate.
“Greg taught me to figure out stuff on my own. I can’t tell you how big that is for me. I owe a huge thanks to him. For instance, while I am pitching, if I feel my arm slot is too high or too low, I can correct it on my own.”
Balester says this has made him a better pitcher because he can diagnose what is out of whack with his pitching on the fly instead of between appearances. That has made a big difference in his pitching this season.
“I really feel like I have turned the corner,” he said.
Balester is also not looking ahead, even if this call to the majors may be a short one.
“When you get the call to the big leagues, whether it is for one day, one year or 40 years, it is a huge compliment. That is a big accomplishment. They could have called anyone’s name. I am going to leave it all on the field and (if it is a only a couple of days up here) then I will take it all in stride and just seize this opportunity.”
So Balester isn’t disappointed that it probably will be for just one day?
“It is not a hassle. Any time I can get into a major league park without having to pay, that is a good thing (laughs).”