It's been a bitter-sweet journey for local product Gary Daley Jr.
Following his third-round selection in the 2006 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Grass Valley native has seen his share of bumps in the road. However, on Sunday afternoon at Raley Field, the right-hander found his groove on the mound.
Daley, called up from Single-A Stockton earlier Sunday, didn't disappoint before the home crowd. He earned the win as the River Cats downed Tacoma 11-3 to split the season's opening series.
Daley tossed 5.0 solid innings, allowing five hits and surrendering three runs.
Things started a little rocky for Daley, who gave up a lead-off walk to Dustin Ackley followed by a double to Greg Halman, leaving runners on second and third with no out. The next hitter, Matt Tuiasosopo, singled in Ackley as Tacoma took the 1-0 lead. It looked like Daley was in for a long day when Tuiasosopo stole second and the next batter, Mike Carp, drew a walk. After a visit from Sacramento Pitching Coach Scott Emerson, Daley settled down and got himself out of the jam, but not before allowing another run on a sacrifice fly by third basemen Alex Liddi.
"I just told him to have fun," Emerson said. "We looked over the scouting reports together before the game and I thought he battled, made pitches when he had to, and did a good job adjusting."
Sacramento scored seven runs in the second inning to give Daley all the support he needed.
Starting the season with Single-A Stockton, it was a short drive up Interstate 5 for Daley, who was greeted by a group of friends and family.
"It was fun," Daley said of the experience. "It was a good learning experience for me. I came out a little passive, but as the game went on I was more aggressive and got settled in."
After graduating from Nevada Union in 2003, Daley became a Cal Poly Mustang and posted a 3-1 record as a freshman. After his Junior season, he was taken in the third round of the 2006 June MLB Amateur Draft (106th Overall) by St. Louis.
Daley's biggest issue throughout his career has been commanding the strike zone. From 2006-2008 he issued 98 walks in 85.1 innings pitched and was eventually released by St. Louis in July of 2010.
Gary looks for a new beginning with the A's organization, and Sunday afternoon was definitely a step in the right direction.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.