Something hard and cold and desperate runs through Kyle Drabek.

So much is evident in the way he carries himself to the mound, the way he takes it as his own at just 23 years old, and then the way he rages against imperfection.

"And we've toned it down a little bit," Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell says, smiling.

Drabek is five starts into his big-league career, two starts into what figures to be his first full season, and already he is exceptional for the four pitches he throws, the ferocity with which he throws them and his unyielding belief in their outcome.

"He can flip out," catcher J.P. Arencibia says, smiling.

He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning last Saturday against the Minnesota Twins, ultimately allowing one hit over seven innings in his first career win. He gave up one earned run in six innings in Anaheim on Friday night, when he fought his command and a sometimes unpredictable strike zone, and once forgot to back up third base – frustrations that several times brought veteran and personal catcher Jose Molina to the mound, where he'd place a soothing hand on the rookie's shoulder.

"What I do is make sure he stays calm," Molina says, smiling. "Make sure he doesn't get too excited. I mean, 23 years old in the big leagues, anyone gets excited a little bit."

Sometimes it works. Sometimes, as Farrell says, "It can work against you."

"It was hard," Drabek says, "especially when I was younger."

Drabek wants to win.


It was true then, as a boy, as Doug Drabek's boy, as it is today.

Yes, he nods, the expectation for such can get the better of him. He had a 30-1 record in high school, at The Woodlands outside Houston. He was the first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006, then the centerpiece of the trade that brought Roy Halladay. He made three starts for the Blue Jays last September, allowed exactly three runs in each of them and lost them all, but had all but secured his place in the Jays' rotation come 2011.

But the notion that teams lose, that he would lose, took time to comprehend.

In high school, he says, "We almost never lost. So it was a little weird losing games. It took some getting used to. Not that I got used to it. But there's some things you can't control in a game."

He shrugs, an admission that he is who he is.