Monday, November 3, 2008

Channeling competiveness in a postive way

Almost one year ago, the Tampa Bay Rays made a trade that included Matt Garza, a pitcher who "was 8-13 over parts of two seasons with Minnesota and was known for having a temper that could be as explosive as his fastball."

After an incident in June when Garza and a teammate "scuffled" in the dugout during a game against Texas, Garza went to Rays manager Joe Maddon and said, "I need help controlling my emotions." Coach Maddon contends "it was a huge turning point for him."

With the help of a sports psychologist:

"Garza learned to channel his competitiveness in more positive ways. For instance, when he needs to make an important pitch, Garza is apt to walk off the mound, remove his cap and read inspirational writings scrawled inside it."

The results were immediate and clearly contributed to the 24-year-old Garza earning ALCS MVP honors, the youngest pitcher ever to win the award.

Said one of Garza's teammates: "I've never seen a guy mature emotionally and professionally over the course of one season like this guy has done."