Brewers announce Halama deal

The Brewers made official their deal with veteran left-hander John Halama on Tuesday and, as expected, it’s a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.

Halama will be 38 by the time he reports to his first big league camp since 2006, with Baltimore. He actually agreed to terms with the Brewers a few days before Thanksgiving, and told on Nov. 25 that he was looking forward to trying a comeback.

“I’m really thankful that they are giving me an opportunity,” Halama said from the Dominican Republic, where he is pitching for Aguilas in that country’s winter league. “The way that it was explained to me was that I would come into camp with an opportunity to win a big league job, so I have to be ready to go.

“That’s all I’ve ever asked, let me have an opportunity to open up some eyes. I’m really excited to get back in the game. I’ve had some personal things go on in my life that affected me and got me out of the game, but now I’m clear-minded and I’m ready to go. I’m getting a second chance, and I’m fully aware of that.”

If Halama wins a spot on the Major League roster he would draw a $450,000 salary. Otherwise, he would go to Triple-A Nashville as insurance for the Brewers, who fell out of contention in 2009 when they failed to fill spots in the rotation caused by injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan.

In his first eight winter league starts, Halama was 4-3 with a 2.15 ERA. He pitched on Nov. 20 in front of Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid and assistant scouting director Ray Montgomery, who happened to be in the Dominican Republic looking at prospects.

Familiarity helped foster the deal. Halama pitched in Oakland in 2003 under now-Brewers manager Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson. Before that he pitched four seasons with the Mariners while Chris Bosio was a roving pitching coach for Seattle. Bosio is now a Brewers advance scout.

Halama’s original plan was to make two more starts for Aguilas after Thanksgiving before returning to the U.S. He turns 38 on Feb. 22, two days after the formal date for Brewers pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training.

“I know it’s going to be different,” Halama said. “The baseball part is probably going to feel weird because I haven’t been in big league camp in so long, but I’m positive that I’ll fit in. It’s going to be a little foreign to me, but not too foreign.”


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