SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Donovan Hand might not make the Brewers' Opening Day roster, but his strong Spring Training is dramatically increasing the likelihood of a Major League debut sometime this season.
In fact, the club discussed promoting Hand on several occasions last year, manager Ron Roenicke said, opportunities that instead went to another strike-throwing righty, Mike McClendon.
"When we were talking about who to bring up, I heard a lot of good things about [Hand] last year," Roenicke said. "We had talked about whether to bring him up or not. He's a guy you know is going to throw strikes, he has a nice repertoire of pitches at different velocities, and his fastball is enough to 'play' in the big leagues.
"So, there's a lot of guys who have talked him up pretty high this year so far -- including me. He's in the picture."
Hand, 27 next month, has been quietly effective in the Minors, with a 3.60 ERA in 210 appearances, including a 3.88 ERA in parts of three seasons at Triple-A Nashville. He is a non-roster invitee to his first Major League camp.
In his first five Cactus League appearances spanning six innings, Hand has allowed two hits and no runs. He attributes his solid spring to lessons learned last October and November in the Venezuelan Winter League.
"I'm a country boy from Alabama," Hand said. "I didn't know the language too well, and all of a sudden, I'm over there pitching in front of 30,000 people. I left that game thinking, 'If I can pitch here, I can pitch anywhere.' I learned a lot over there."
Hand was a starting pitcher in Venezuela, so he had plenty of innings to work on his curveball.
"It did give me a head start," said Hand, who was back in the U.S. to marry his wife, Haley, in December. "I've always wanted to be over here [in big league camp]. I'm not a guy who throws 95, 96 mph, so I can't impress you with one outing. Hopefully, the body of work is what they see, and if some point in the season they need somebody, I'm the guy."