David Hale was born in Marietta, Georgia. He grew up in the peach state, played college baseball at Princeton and came back home when he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB draft. To top it off Hale holds the Braves record for strikeouts in a pitcher’s debut with nine. Hale couldn’t have asked for a better debut and career situation. After spending the majority of 2014 pitching out of the Braves bullpen, Hale was set for another year in Atlanta until he found out his new home would be in Colorado.
“I had to scramble around and try to find a place in Arizona then I had to see what my fiancée wanted to do, we had it easy,” Hale said in a radio interview on The Opening Drive on Sports Radio 610 KNML. Hale was traded to the Rockies on January 30th of this year.
Hale suffered a strained oblique late in spring training which forced him to start the season in Albuquerque. Through four starts he’s posted a 7.29 ERA over 21 innings of work with a 18-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Hale has started to find his form over his last two starts after admitting to pressing early on in an effort to get to Colorado.
“Initially I was a little upset because it was a side injury that kept me from pitching,” Hale said and added, “I’ve made a couple of adjustments and Darrell [Scott, Isotopes pitching coach] has helped me out a lot with a couple little things…honestly I would rather do the tweaking down here then up there on the fly.”
As Hale tries to settle in he’s also wrapping his head around pitching at altitude. He said, “The thought of throwing in Denver… it’s not everyone’s first choice but as the big league coaches put it, you can turn it in to your own advantage. We throw there for half the season but other teams come in there and they don’t want to throw there.”
Hale made six starts last season but primarily worked out of the Braves pen appearing in 39 games as a reliever. Inside the friendly confines of Turner Field he posted a 2.96 ERA over 48 2/3 innings while recording a 3.72 ERA in 38 2/3 innings overall on the road. The Rockies are fond of sinkerball pitchers but Hale still knows that even the altitude gets to his sinker and breaking pitches.
“I had no problem sinking my ball in Atlanta or any of those lower places…it’s definitely a difference. Your pitches move less and when they hit it, it goes farther,” Hale said.
Being in Albuquerque which is a mile high gives Hale and the Isotopes pitchers the ability to get comfortable or at least get an understanding of what is needed to pitch at Coors Field. Getting comfortable at altitude might be similar to seeing the Loch Ness monster, some say they have seen it but we know it actually doesn’t exist.
“At first it definitely is a mind thing. Honestly when I’ve been playing it is different but it’s not as bad as everybody exaggerates but once you get past that mind thing, you just got to make your pitches,” Hale said of the age-old question about pitching at altitude.
The opportunities to pitch in Colorado will be there. Tyler Matzek was just sent down to work on his control issues and has a long way to go after his first Triple-A start. Kyle Kendrick was able to put a band-aid on his run total with seven innings of two run ball against the Angels but one start is not a trend. Plus injuries will happen like Jordan Lyles taking a line drive off his pitching hand. Hale who is on the Rockies 40-man roster has to keep executing and he could be wearing purple more than just during Sunday home games at Isotopes Park.
Full interview with David Hale from The Opening Drive on Sports Radio 610 KNML.-