(BaseballStL) -- It was a long wait for Sam Freeman to return to St. Louis in 2013. After a cadre of AAA pitchers made the trip up, the lefty reliever remained patient.
"If you look at the guys who got called up, they were dealing," he said in the clubhouse Thursday. "The best man gets the job."
Finally, Thursday night he got his turn on the major league stage; dropping four batters in a row, fanning two of them.
It was a strong showing after struggles plagued the 26-year-old hurler in 2012. In 20 innings of work last year he gave up 17 hits and 12 runs.
After spending time in Memphis, manager Mike Matheny said Freeman has tweaked his delivery.
"He's made some minor adjustments- I think simplified his mechanics, to where they're more repeatable," the Cardinal skipper said Friday.
Freeman looked crisp in his release, striking out Gonzalez and Puig to end the seventh. When he came off in the eighth, praise quickly followed.
"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. "He's done everything we've asked him to do."
Matheny said Friday Freeman will be looked at as a longer-inning reliever, possibly being counted on to go two or more innings.