PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Donovan Hand, who has seen the "spot" dropped from his spot starter designation and has joined the Brewers' pitching rotation, was feeling no ill effects Sunday from a line drive off his pitching arm the night before.
Hand threw 53 of his 64 pitches for strikes while delivering five innings of two-run ball against the Pirates on Saturday, and he would have been sent out for the sixth, manager Ron Roenicke said, if not for the Jordy Mercer comebacker that struck Hand on the right wrist to lead off the fifth inning. Hand threw Mercer out and finished the inning, then came out of the game due to precaution.
"It's fine," Hand said Sunday morning. "We didn't want it to tighten up, and I was up there in pitches, anyway. Sixty-four is not a lot, but they're just trying to ease me into [starting], I think."
It's a role he has not filled extensively since 2009 at Double-A Huntsville, where Hand was an All-Star reliever in the first half and then made his final 11 appearances as a starter. He moved back to relief in '10.
He was needed this season to help plug a Brewers pitching rotation beset by injuries. Saturday marked Hand's second start (he has allowed two runs in 9 2/3 efficient innings in that role), and he is penciled in for another on Independence Day in Washington, D.C.
Considering he has started games, worked long relief and even closed on occasion, Hand refers to himself as a "utility man."
"Like I've always said, if I'm in the big leagues, anything they tell me to do, I'll try to do to the best of my abilities and see what happens," Hand said. "I look at it as an opportunity."
The 27-year-old is one of 10 different pitchers to make a start for Milwaukee this season, one shy of the team's total from all of 2012. The Brewers will have decisions to make when Marco Estrada (hamstring) and Alfredo Figaro (rib cage) return from the disabled list.
"For me, I like [Hand] there," Roenicke said. "You look at what he did with his ball-strike ratio to start the game; we don't have other guys that do that. If he doesn't take the ball off the arm, he can go deeper in that game."