At some point, Brewers right-hander Mike McClendon will gladly trade his spikes for a pair of flip-flops, his glove for a fishing pole -- but not yet. He's still hard at work in the Arizona Fall League, a prospect-rich showcase that represents a terrific opportunity for McClendon to state his case for a spot in the Brewers' 2011 bullpen, but it also continues a long 2010. Consider how far he's come this year: He pitched all of one inning in big league Spring Training games -- the last inning of the Cactus League, no less -- then shot through Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville to Milwaukee, where McClendon held his own to the tune of a 3.00 ERA in 17 appearances. His spot in the Fall League was set before he arrived in the Majors, and McClendon was given the option to skip it. Instead, he reported for duty. He pitched his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance for the Surprise Rafters on Monday after allowing two runs in his AFL debut.
"I think it's a great honor to go," McClendon said. "It's a chance to see if I can handle it -- going long into the season. We'll see what happens." In the first of what will be an offseason-long series of Brewers.com "Six-packs," McClendon answers six questions about his long year and what he's looking forward to when it's over: 1. You're pitching by far the longest season of your life. How does the arm feel? McClendon: So far, I feel strong -- stronger than I usually feel at this time of the year. Usually, there's some kind of fatigue, but I feel like I'm still going well. It's definitely the work I've put in. I didn't know what to expect when I got up to the big leagues. 2. When you arrived, what did you find? McClendon: Trevor Hoffman's routine. We were running out there every day. That's really helped, and it's something I decided I was going to stick with through the Fall League. I had no idea what I was in for when I showed up in Milwaukee the first day, running on two-hours' sleep trying to get out there. Boom, right away we were out there running around. 3. Do you remember what that first "Camp Hoffman" workout entailed? McClendon: Distance running, around the parking lot in Milwaukee. We're usually out there for an hour total, and it's a mixture of everything -- some running long, some sprints, some ab work, some other drills. It was kind of surprising because usually, late in the season, you tone things down, and those guys were almost building up again. It really helped. 4. How much do you think those workouts are a part of Hoffman's longevity? McClendon: He was probably more in-shape than all of us. He does those workouts without breaking a sweat. Watching him definitely gets you going and makes you work harder. 5. Did you surprise yourself with your success this season? McClendon: I never would have thought the year would go like it did. Starting off in Nashville and then being a [Minor League] All-Star halfway through the year, and things just kept on rolling. Everything fell into place. I've shown them a little bit of what I can do, but I think I have a lot more to prove, to be honest. But they know my face now. 6. When you finally put down the baseball, what are your offseason plans? McClendon: I'm going to spend most of the offseason [at home in Corpus Cristi, Texas] fishing out on the bay. It's real nice down there all winter. I didn't know anyone down there when I moved last winter, but I made some connections and ran into (Padres reliever) Mike Adams, who is from the same area. I'll give him a call when I get back to town and we'll get out there. I'm looking forward to it. You can follow all of the action in the Arizona Fall League in a special section at MLB.com.