Freeman's patience, hard work pays off in 2013 -

Freeman's patience, hard work pays off in 2013

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- Sam Freeman has seen the bigs before. In 2012, the lefty notched 20 innings of work, amassing an ERA of more than five and a WHIP of 1.35.

He began 2013 in Memphis with a focus on finding and sticking with his strengths.

"It was really about staying with what I do, staying within myself," he said. "Not trying to be somebody I'm not." 

After watching seven AAA pitchers move to St. Louis this season, Freeman finally got his shot in an August call up.

His first appearance in 2013 came against the Dodgers on August 8. He faced four batters in an inning and a third, striking out two and allowing no base runners.

“As soon as he came off the field that was the first thing we talked about was what a great job [he did],” Matheny said following Freeman’s appearance. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

Tuesday, the Cardinals called on Freeman again; this time asking him to hold the division-leading Pirates at bay in the 14th inning.

Freeman once again answered, striking Neil Walker out to end the inning, stranding Starling Marte and allowing Adron Chambers' RBI in the bottom half to be the game-winner.

"I just feel more confident," he said. "I'm sticking with my strengths."

Matheny said Freeman is continuing to improve, and the manager tipped his hat to the hard work he put in in Memphis making adjustments. 

"He's doing a great job making good pitches, and he's got great stuff to go along with it," Matheny said. "Sam has a nice changeup that is effective with right handers and left-handers."

Freeman says his change is his second best pitch behind his power fastball, and sticking with that deadly combination has been key to his success this season. 

His velocity- he hit upper nineties Tuesday night- as a lefty makes him a valuable asset in the pen, and Matheny said Wednesday Freeman's consistency this season makes him dangerous to hitters in both boxes.

"That's an uncomfortable at bat for a lefty, but an opportunity for us to use him against righties as well," he said. 

Following Tuesday's emotional finish, Freeman will have little time to revel in the win. Game 2 will be less than 20 hours from the finish of the first game, and he could see action again Wednesday- something he sounds like he's ready for. 

"One thing that I've learned through my experience in playing is every day is a new day," he said. "Last night was nice but today is a brand new day."


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