MILWAUKEE—Mike McClendon learned one month into the 2008 season that he was being shifted from the rotation to the high Class A Brevard County bullpen. The 6-foot-5 righthander was taken aback when the Brewers conveyed the message.
"I was a little disappointed," he said. "When you're used to doing something else your whole life and someone says to try something different, you don't know what to think."
Little more than two years later, McClendon thanks his lucky stars for that change in roles. The 25-year-old reached the big leagues much sooner than he could have anticipated.
"If you want to be successful in this game, you have to adapt to certain things," he said. "I have no problems with it now, for sure."
McClendon reached Triple-A Nashville for the first time in April, going 4-3, 2.44 in 22 relief appearances plus three starts. He struck out 44 and walked 14 over 55 innings, surrendering only one home run.
The Brewers called up McClendon on Aug. 14 when LaTroy Hawkins went on the disabled list. Thrust into the sixth inning of a tie game in Denver in his debut, he pitched three perfect innings, holding the fort until the Brewers could pull out a 5-4 win against the Rockies.
McClendon became the first pitcher in franchise history to retire the first nine batters he faced in the same game.
"We had guys moving up through the system and they thought it was a better opportunity for me to get work out of the pen," said McClendon, a 10th-round pick in 2006 out of Seminole (Fla.) CC. "They thought it suited me better to be in a long-relief type role.
"I'm not an overpowering pitcher. I have four different pitches to work with. Coming out of the pen, they thought it would be good to stay with that repertoire."
In particular, McClendon relies on a sinker, as evident by his 1.67 groundout-to-flyout ratio and 11 double plays induced for Nashville. He credits Brevard pitching coach Fred Dabney with helping to make the transition from starter to reliever while also staying with the style of pitching that made him successful.
• Righthander Wily Peralta went 1-2, 3.24 with 23 strikeouts over 33 innings in his first six starts for Double-A Huntsville. The 21-year-old earned a promotion from Brevard County, where he finished with similar results.
• Low Class A Wisconsin righty Jake Odorizzi completed the first eight innings of a combined no-hitter against Cedar Rapids on Aug. 24. The 20-year-old struck out 10, walked one and hit a batter.