Dr. Ken Callis insists he's still a Cardinals fan, but don't be surprised if he takes a special rooting interest in the Astros, St. Louis' National League Central Division rivals.
Callis, a Cape Girardeau psychologist, spent a week at Houston's spring training camp in Kissimmee, Fla., last month assisting Astros team psychiatrist Dr. Tom Eppright in performance enhancement.
Callis was invited to the Astros' spring training through his relationship with Eppright, who formerly worked at the University of Missouri.
"I've known him for about 10, 12 years from when he was at Missouri and we've worked together on a few projects," Callis said. "He's wanted me to do this for a while."
Callis was brought in to demonstrate relaxation techniques, help increase concentration and work in other areas of mental preparation.
The program focused primarily on players at the minor league level. Callis met with players, coaches and front office staff to investigate areas that might improve productivity.
"We talked a lot about staying focused, relaxing, not tensing up, those kinds of things," Callis said. "I got to interact socially with the major league players, but they've kind of figured out some of their own coping things where the younger guys haven't."
Callis, who played football at Tennessee-Martin in the late 1960s, will consult with the Astros throughout the season, making periodic visits to Houston and minor league sites.
"The plan is to follow up through the season and then next spring add a couple of more pieces to it," he said. "As far as we know none of the other organizations are doing this, except on kind of a case-by-case basis."
Callis attended a recent Cardinals-Astros game in St. Louis as a guest of Houston management. So, who was he rooting for?
"People have accused me of being a traitor," he said. "But I root for the Cardinals. There are certain players on the Astros I want to do well, but the bottom line is the Cardinals have to win."
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