PHOENIX -- A year ago Monday, Kyle Lohse made his spring debut. Agent Scott Boras arranged for Lohse to pitch in a simulated game against the Scottsdale Community College Artichokes.
An unsigned free agent, Lohse needed to face hitters to get his arm in shape so that when his baseball limbo ended, he would be back in the big leagues by the start of the 2013 season.
"I faced Scottsdale and also threw a few times against Grand Canyon," Lohse said. "I think Grand Canyon is the Lopes, short for Antelopes."
Lohse was a free agent who had declined a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, and got caught in a situation similar to what Ervin Santana, Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew are facing this spring.
Lohse finally signed last March with the Brewers.
"March 25," Lohse said. "Of course I remember that date. I'll never forget it."
It was a week before the start of the regular season. He appeared in a spring game two days later, and made his regular season debut 11 days later, in the Brewers' fourth game, a 3-1 loss to Arizona. Lohse had a no decision, allowing one run in six innings.
Lohse, 35, had been around long enough to know how to get himself in shape physically, so he was ready for the start. But he admits there were anxious moments joining the Brewers so late in the spring.
"Mentally, it was more of a grind than physically," Lohse said. "You do all your work on your own. What's difficult is you know guys on the team from playing against them, but you don't know them as teammates. You don't have a personal relationship."
This year, Lohse is one of the guys. There was no offseason drama, thanks to the three-year, $33 million deal he eventually signed with Milwaukee.
"I always felt something was going to happen, but you get into the final week of the spring and you start to wonder," Lohse said. "I wasn't going to sign a one-year deal or two-year deal. I was thinking I might have to wait until [after the First-Year Player Draft in June], so a team wouldn't lose its Draft choice."
Lohse, however, found Spring Training interest from Colorado and the Brewers.
"I thought I might end up in Colorado, but Milwaukee was a better situation in terms of a guarantee, and it was one of the teams I was looking at when free agency started," Lohse said.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.