Waiting and trying to figure out where I was going after I was designated for assignment in late June last year was difficult. Fortunately, I ended up going to St. Louis, a team that was built to win and had a very good chance of going to the playoffs. That helped to re-energize me.
When a team that's very competitive like the Cardinals acquires you, and wants you to be part of their team, it gives you new confidence. It helps you regain an edge. I really made it part of my mindset to take advantage of the opportunity. The Cardinals gave me reason to continue to believe in myself.
At the time of the trade, I felt if I continued to work hard I would be able to get myself straightened out. Sure enough, I made the necessary adjustments to get back to the way I knew I could pitch. Considering how things started last season, it was almost hard to believe my fortunes could turn around so completely.
It shows that over the course of long season you can start out slow and finish strong and vice versa. It's up to us as players to maintain and stay more consistent. That's what I'm aiming for this season: to start off well and maintain a level of consistency from the beginning of the season through the end.
I want to put together a season like I had in Los Angeles and in my early Detroit days. I'd like to really turn the corner and become a pitcher who can be a consistent winner throughout the season.
The biggest thing for me last season was pulling myself back into focusing on the moment and the task at hand. In retrospect, when I was in Anaheim, I got caught up thinking about the future and what might happen. I was concerned with negative things that rolled through my head before they even took place. I began getting too far ahead of myself.
I needed to get back to the present and focus on that game, that inning, that pitch. The Cardinals' pitching coach, Dave Duncan, was helpful with that. He sat me down and had me express to him what I considered my strengths and what had made me successful in the past.
It was like retraining my mind to believe in my strengths and count on my ability to go out and perform. Not only that, though. Duncan is always incredibly prepared. He provided a lot of great information for game plans and prepared us for the task at hand.
Coming out of the gates with my win against San Diego in the first round of the playoffs boosted my confidence even more and put me in a good mindset for the rest of the postseason. I'd been to the postseason a few other times and hadn't had that kind of success. Getting that first win gave me something to build on.
My positive experience with St. Louis gives me something to draw from as I start this season with Seattle. I want to remember what it felt like when I got back in the groove and pitched well the last 10 starts or so in St. Louis, and then the postseason, and carry it over to this season.
Hopefully I'll be able to go back to those times and remember what I should be feeling and how I should be feeling. Just like there's a muscle memory, there's a mind memory. You need to continually remind your mind and your body, and be able to tap into those feelings that brought success.
Jeff Weaver, designated for assignment midway through the 2006 season, completed a remarkable turnaround when he stuck out nine Tigers and allowed just one run to win Game 5 of the World Series. He signed with the Seattle Mariners in the offseason.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.