Purcey ready for fresh start
Southpaw back in big leagues after success in Minors
TORONTO -- David Purcey hopes that what happened in Las Vegas doesn't stay there. Not for him, not this year.The left-handed starter feels that his demotion to the Blue Jays' Triple-A team earlier this season had a positive effect on his pitching. And he will have the chance to show that on Monday, when he makes his first start since his recall earlier this week at Comerica Park against the Tigers. "Actually, for the most part, this year's been pretty good for me," Purcey said. He began the season in the Toronto rotation but was demoted after going 0-2 with a 7.01 ERA in five starts in April. At Las Vegas, he was 9-6 with a 4.46 ERA in 24 starts. "I came to Spring Training knowing what I wanted to do," Purcey said. "I questioned myself early in the year, and going down to Vegas helped me kind of put things back into order, how I like doing things and the way I want to go about things. It just kind of helped me set my routine even more." Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston mentioned one of Purcey's starts that impressed him near the end of the Triple-A season. It was Purcey's shutout of Reno, when he allowed three hits and no walks while striking out five. His pitch count was a reasonable 106, with 67 strikes. "He had a great outing his second-to-last start in the Minors," Gaston said. "It would be nice to see that. I think with David, his problem is just throwing strikes. He needs to work on his control." Said Purcey: "Towards the end of the year, I just started feeling it again and made a couple of corrections, a couple of changes and adjustments in my motion and tempo. "In the end, it's helped me out a lot. I plan on taking that new tempo and rhythm out there and just continue to do what I've been doing. What it does, it gives me a chance to go out there and the way I know to pitch." In his final 10 starts at Las Vegas, Purcey was 6-3 with a 4.37 ERA. He said Las Vegas pitching coach Dave LaRoche worked well with him. "He's helped me out a lot," Purcey said. "I had in him in Double-A for a while and again in Triple-A this year. He's helped me re-prioritize, which made me answer my own questions, like about the way I want to do things. He was just kind of making me answer my own questions. He's good at that." As for Las Vegas, Purcey said, "The city's a nice city, but it's not my type of town." But the southpaw hopes the lessons he learned while pitching there don't stay there, and that he can use them with Toronto. And what were those lessons?
"Just having me figure out for myself what I need to do on the mound to be successful," Purcey said. "And sticking with it regardless of opinions or whatever. It just re-grounded me on the basics of what I need to be doing as a baseball player and as a person. That was probably the biggest lesson I've learned down there in Triple-A."Purcey, a first-round draft pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, made 12 starts for Toronto in 2008, when he was 3-6 with a 5.54 ERA. He was 8-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A Syracuse last season. It's common for players to try to go beyond what first earned them a promotion during their first shot in the big leagues, and Purcey fell into that trap. "My first couple of starts, I was trying to press, trying to do too much, just trying to overthrow and trying to make everything happen instead of just going out there and having fun and just remembering it's still a game," Purcey said. The one thing Purcey did not do was play his guitar -- which he plays right-handed.
"I didn't bring my guitar to Vegas," he said.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.