When Pat Egan reported to Milwaukee Brewers camp in Tempe, Ariz., Thursday morning, he said he had a feeling it could be his last day with that organization.
“I came in this morning and took a look at the travel roster and I wasn’t on it and also I haven’t thrown in a couple of days. I kind of had an eerie feeling that something was going to happen. Then I got the news,” he said.
Egan, taken by the Brewers in December’s Rule 5 draft after he was left off the Orioles’ 40-man roster, is heading back to the Birds, rejoining the club that drafted him in round 36 in 2006 out of Quinnipiac University.
He is scheduled to fly to Sarasota today and will join the O’s big league camp for a few days before he is expected to join the team’s Norfolk Triple-A squad.
“There are a lot of mixed emotions right now,” Egan said by phone Thursday afternoon from Arizona. “Some of it is disappointment, but at the same time, very grateful. Didn’t get to make the big league club, but I’m very grateful to the Brewers for the opportunity they gave me. It was my first big league camp, I had a great experience and am taking a lot away from this.”
Egan, who pitched at Double-A Bowie and Norfolk last summer and then in the Arizona Fall League, did not allow a run over 6 1/3 exhibition innings for Milwaukee. He gave up six hits and no walks and fanned two batters. His last outing was Sunday, when he pitched 1 1/3 innings against the Reds. His pitching coach there, by the way, was former O’s coach Rick Kranitz.
“I tried to make their decision as hard as possible, but I was realistic and knew as a Rule 5 pick, it puts the organization in a tough position. I understood that going in but wanted to make a good impression on the clubhouse and the staff,” Egan said.
Egan said he was scheduled to pitch in the Brewers exhibition opener Feb. 28, but “tweaked” his groin two days earlier throwing batting practice and missed the first week of games. He says he is 100 percent now.
“When I finally got in some games, I was a little anxious to say the least and probably tried to do too much,” Egan said. “I was overthrowing a bit trying to make an impression in one inning. I had to tell myself to relax. Once I settled down I got more into a groove.”
He said spending time around veteran major league players was a big help.
“Just being around the environment itself, day in and day out, seeing guys that have been professionals for 15 years< Egan said. “Guys like Latroy Hawkins, Craig Counsell, Mark Kotsay, Takashi Saito to name a few. Just being in that atmosphere, it helps you understand the approach you have to have to get to that level.”
A 26-year-old right hander, Egan went 6-1 with an ERA of 2.12 in 22 Bowie games last summer and then went 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in 27 games at Norfolk. He said he wasn’t happy with his pitching for the Tides late last summer and now wants to show the O’s he can pitch at that level and perhaps push for major league time this year.
Egan has pitched with excellent control over his career and has issued just 32 walks over 176 innings the last two seasons. The sinklerball pitcher had a 2.80 ratio last summer of ground to air outs.
He holds no ill feelings toward the Baltimore organization. They didn’t put him on the 40-man roster in December, but now he’s back and ready for a second shot with the Orioles.
“I have no resentment whatsoever for (the Orioles) not protecting me. Baseball is just as much a business as anything else. They had decisions to make and that’s fine with me. I didn’t do enough to get put on the roster and there’s no one else to blame but myself.
“It all worked out in the end. I got a great opportunity to play with Milwaukee in spring training and now I go back to the team that originally drafted me and gave me my first shot. It’s kind of exciting to go back and see some familiar faces,” Egan said.