Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins tested his right shoulder in the bullpen on Saturday and said there’s no reason to fret about his availability for Opening Day.
Hawkins has not pitched in a Cactus League game since March 11, when he developed what he called “tightness” behind his shoulder. Saturday’s 30-pitch session marked his first mound work since then, and Hawkins needed only one word to describe how it went:
“Great,” he said. “That’s all you need to write: Great.”
A few years ago, Hawkins might not have been so chipper. Saturday, after all, was only two weeks and two days shy of the Brewers’ April 5 season opener against the Rockies, and the last place Hawkins would want to begin his tenure with the team is on the disabled list. He signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Milwaukee at the Winter Meetings to serve as a setup man to closer Trevor Hoffman.
Two weeks, Hawkins insisted, is plenty of time to get ready. He learned that last year when he had to prepare quickly to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
“That’s the only reason I didn’t panic this time,” he said, “because I had the experience with the WBC and had no problems. I think I threw about seven games and that was it. So if I can do that here, I’ll be fine.”
Hawkins is aiming to return to game action on Monday, when the Brewers host the Dodgers. But he said he would have to confer with pitching coach Rick Peterson and the team’s athletic training staff before making a decision.
Fellow reliever Davis Riske also threw a bullpen on Saturday as he continues his road back from Tommy John surgery. Left-hander Chris Capuano was originally slated for a bullpen, too, but at Peterson’s suggestion he instead played long toss. Capuano, who has trying to return from a second Tommy John surgery, should return to the mound within a few days.