He stayed up late and we got up early. That’s what it took to connect with our good friend, Dan Straily, as he prepared for his first regular season start in the suddenly-appointment-television Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
After a decade of MLB service, Straily’s move to Korea is just the latest example of something that has become a staple in his unique journey – the ability to absorb adversity and tackle challenges head-on.
In his conversation with Seth and BP on the Rapsodo Baseball Podcast, Straily details his career, and traces his resiliency all the way back to an uncomfortable conversation while pitching at Marshall.
“I wasn’t expecting that…”
Straily had arm talent in college, but also a self-described “bad body.” While chatting in the outfield one day, Straily asked a pro scout what it would take for him to get drafted.
“I thought he’d tell me to sharpen my breaking ball or work on my changeup,” Straily said. “Instead, he looked at me and said, ‘I hope you understand what I’m about to say…the kid had all the talent in the world, but he couldn’t get out of the buffet line.’”
A lot of 19-year-olds might hear a blunt message like that and get defensive, some might quit. Straily went straight to the team’s Strength and Conditioning coach and began working on a plan to transform his body.
“Every time I see that scout, I thank him,” Straily said. “It was hard to hear, but I knew he would never say that to someone he didn’t believe had a shot. It inspired me. That moment changed my life.”
It wouldn’t be the last time he would have to reassess the way he trained.
Fighting Failure with Driveline
What would you do if the thing you’ve always done at an elite level, the thing on which you made your living, suddenly stopped working?
That’s exactly what happened to Straily.
He flew up the Oakland Athletics system and established himself in their big-league rotation, largely on the strength of a slider that couldn’t be hit.
Then his slider started getting hit. A lot.
“People were swinging and missing at this pitch for five years, and now they’re not. Why?” Straily asked himself. “I was very fortunate that happened to me at a time when people were really starting to use data to figure out why exactly why pitches moved the way they moved.”
Given their position in the game, it’s easy to forget Driveline Baseball wasn’t always packed with big league players training all hours of the day. Straily was among the first MLB pitchers to train at Driveline in the early days, and he shared those stories with Seth and BP.
The Lotte Giants
This is Straily’s first season in South Korea with the Lotte Giants.
The KBO is one of the only major sports league playing games right now, which called for this special episode to drop. Each morning ESPN is airing a KBO game. Set your alarms to catch Staily during his next outing.
During his last outing he pitched 7 scoreless innings, striking out 11.
Hear more about Straily’s incredible career and get an up-close perspective on his adjustment to the KBO, on and off the field, on this special episode of The Rapsodo Baseball Podcast.