Hawkins pitches in first game since August

Hawkins pitches in first game since August

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The health continued clearing for the Brewers on Saturday, as LaTroy Hawkins made a key step back from his 2010 shoulder surgery by pitching in his first game since Aug. 10 on Friday.

"I threw an inning," Hawkins said of his Minor League appearance. "It was pretty good. The key was I'm pain free."

Though Hawkins had faced his teammates in live batting practice and simulated games, the chance to get into a more competitive atmosphere at any level marked important progress for the veteran right-hander.

"It felt good to be out there facing somebody with a different jersey," Hawkins said. "I've been throwing to our hitters, but it's different when you throw against another team. The adrenaline gets to flowing a lot more."

Manager Ron Roenicke was pleased with Hawkins' outing, though he'll keep him pitching in Minor League games for the short term to ensure the club has flexibility on back-dating a disabled list appearance if Hawkins isn't ready to go by Opening Day.

"The ball came out a lot better than I think he expected for his first outing," Roenicke said. "He had good life on his fastball."

Hawkins should have time to get ready by Opening Day, but keeping him out of big league games means he could be on the DL retroactively if necessary, and potentially only miss a couple of days, rather than missing up to 10 if he appears in a Major League game.

"I have no ill effects from yesterday," Hawkins said. "I feel like I didn't pitch yesterday. I feel better [than normal]."

Hawkins is focusing on locating his fastball, though he threw sliders and changeups on Friday, too. He's happy to be pitching in any competitive environment this spring, and barring any setbacks, he's set to pitch again Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Considering the seven-month layoff he's endured, he's right where he wants to be this spring.

"I wish I could have been there about a week ago, but I'm feeling good," Hawkins said. "I'm happy about the results yesterday and how I feel today. I'm pretty excited. I haven't been excited in a long time."