April 15, 2005
Dan Pezley's baseball career will come to a close following the 2005 season, but it's what he is taking away from the game that is most important to him. The Marion, Ohio native has played through injuries but didn't let that hold him back. The 6'4" right-hander is set to take the skills he learned through athletics and school into the business world. Before he does that, the Hoosier senior took some time to talk about the mechanics of pitching, friends and his plans after college.
Looking back at your college career so far, what are your overall
thoughts about where you are at?
I haven't had the type of college baseball career that I had hoped. When I was throwing well last season I got Mononucleosis and had to miss six weeks of my junior season, and then I tore my labrum this fall, but I have more than enjoyed my experience at IU. I feel lucky to have taken my career this far and have a job to fall back on when it is over.
What do you do to stay calm and focused in critical moments during
I do my best to remind myself that the game doesn't change regardless of the situation and as Coach Morgan says - "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" - and I use that mentality every time I'm out on the mound.
What have been some of the difficulties this season that both you and
your team have gone through?
We have had some trouble putting pitching and hitting together early in the Big Ten season. In the past this problem has caused our team to split apart a little bit, but we have learned from those experiences and are starting to turn that trend around and play some solid team baseball this season.
Why did you choose to attend Indiana?
I chose Indiana because it gave me the best mix of baseball and an undergraduate business school that I could find.
What situation puts you under the most pressure?
Obviously, being brought into a close ballgame to shut a team down is a very pressure-filled situation, but anytime you get out on the mound and you don't have control of one or more of your pitches that day the pressure mounts very quickly.
Has your collegiate career gone the way you thought it would or has it
gone beyond what you expected?
My college career has surpassed my expectations in a surprising way. I came here expecting to take my baseball career to the next level and get a solid education as a consolation. Instead, my educational successes have lead to a great job and my baseball career is going to end after this season. Overall, my college experience has been better than I ever imagined it would be.
What were some of the things that you want to accomplish before your
college career is over?
I want to be an All-Big Ten selection as a pitcher, be an excellent student and make lots of new friends during my college career. I have achieved the latter two thus far and am still working at becoming an All-Big Ten pitcher.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you've had to overcome?
I tore my labrum before this season and opted not to have career-ending surgery, so I have been pitching with the help of pain medication and anti-inflammatories. Pitching through that kind of pain has been the hardest challenge I have had to endure in my entire athletic career by far.
What positions in the field have you tried and why are you a good fit at
the position(s) you play now?
I played first base and left field in high school, but I have always hit like a pitcher so I fit in well as a collegiate pitcher with a designated hitter. I have always loved having control over each at-bat and being on the mound allows me to do that like no other position.
What are some of the philosophies your coaches try to get through to the
team or you as an individual?
Coach Morgan and his staff drill us with tests of mental toughness on a daily basis and that has paid off for us many times in tough situations both on and off the field throughout my career. For me personally, getting ahead in the count while pitching is the most useful philosophy that the coaches preach to the pitching staff. Being ahead of a batter makes a world of difference as opposed to falling behind in the count and having to throw them something in the meat of the strike zone.
How did you learn to develop your pitches?
I was pretty raw coming out of high school, and I credit every pitch I throw to my college pitching coaches. They have done a great job fine tuning the curveball and fastball that were my best high school pitches and teaching me to throw an effective changeup. It takes a ton of bullpen time to fully develop a new pitch and playing year round in college has given me the opportunity to do just that.
What are some of the more difficult pitches that you throw and why?
A changeup is a really hard pitch to master because there are so many factors that go into a perfect changeup. It can't be too fast or too slow, you have to look like you are throwing a fastball by not changing your delivery and after all of that you have to be able to throw it exactly where you want with some movement. The key to any good pitch at this level is movement and that can be a difficult aspect to master, especially when you have to combine that movement with great accuracy.
How do you pace yourself through a game to keep going strong all the way
I have learned to throw at around 90 percent rather than putting 100 percent into every fastball. This does wonders for control, but more importantly it allows me to keep my stamina up and last longer on the hill.
How much strategy in terms of pitches and pitch location to you plan for
before you face a team?
We are given a pretty in-depth scouting report, but I always make notes after every Big Ten series so that I have my own report based on experience when we see that batter the next year. I always have a pretty good idea of every batter's strengths and weaknesses and what pitches they struggle with; throwing those pitches exactly where I want to is a whole different story.
What kind of adjustments do you make during the course of a game on the
Before I hurt my arm and knew I was going to be out there for at least two or three innings, I would throw mostly fastballs at the beginning and save some other off-speed pitches for later in the game when the hitters started adjusting to my fastball. Now that I am primarily a short-inning reliever, I try to establish my fastball but I mix in my off-speed pitches much earlier.
Personally, what has been your greatest accomplishment as a
student-athlete and why?
My greatest accomplishment has been my ability to play baseball for four years as well as make tons of friends while maintaining my GPA goal of 3.5 or better. Doing these three things well has kept me on the path toward being the most well-rounded person I can be.
As a kid what athlete or role model did you look up to and why?
I always liked the players that were never bigger than the game and played the game because they loved it and not because they got big money. You can see the guys that play everyday like it is their last; not showing up umpires and always talking to the fans whenever possible. Cal Ripken Jr. always seemed like one of those guys to me, so he was my biggest role model as a kid.
What are some of the difficulties in playing baseball at a high level
that the average fan may not be aware of?
In high school, I could throw my fastball right down the middle because I threw hard enough to get it by hitters pretty much whenever I wanted to. I got a rude awakening during my first collegiate inning and realized very quickly that to be a good college pitcher you have to combine good velocity with even better location and movement to be successful. That is the biggest difference that the average fan may never see from the stands.
What are the areas of your game which you feel you have improved on the
I have added some movement to my fastball over the past few years, and this year I have learned how to control where that movement is going to make my pitch end up when it crosses the strike zone.
How much do you rely on your teammates both on and off the field?
This year's team is very close-nit. After being here for four seasons, I have made many life-long friends and there is not one guy I wouldn't count on to help me out of a tough situation. I rely on them for support after a tough practice or game and my teammates have never let me down. They are the reason that I love coming to the park everyday.
What are some of your weaknesses as a ballplayer?
I find myself over-analyzing the game when I am on the mound, trying to make too many minor adjustments rather than just raring back and letting my pitches work for me. I also have a slightly torn labrum which hasn't helped my ability to stay in the game for more than a few innings.
What are some of your strengths?
My biggest strength on the mound is my curveball. Most of the time I can throw it in whatever location or count I want. Off the field, I have learned to use my experience to lead the younger players. I have tried to show them the hard work and mental approach that it takes to make it at this level, and what I can't show them, I at least have been able to explain to them in a one-on-one setting. I believe this has been my biggest contribution to the team this season.
What are some of your other favorite sports?
I played football, basketball and baseball in high school, but I still wish I were big enough to play football at the college level. I get the chance to play an occasional game of pickup basketball in the off season, but there is nothing like strapping on the pads and banging heads in a football game.
What are your plans after graduation?
I was lucky enough to land an internship last summer as an Investment Banking Analyst with a major Wall Street firm that led to a full-time position. So, I am moving to Manhattan in July to begin work as an Investment Banker. It will be really hard to end my baseball career, but I am looking forward to using many of the things I have learned from the game such as, perseverance, the value of giving more than you first thought you could and time management in a very demanding financial environment.
What do you do to kick back and unwind after a tough game?
Right after a tough game I like to take my mind off of baseball by hanging out with my girlfriend and my friends who aren't on the team. I love to fish and play golf - though I am no pro at either one! Then the next day I think about what I did well and what I could have done better when my emotions are a little more settled.