Hollands committed to improve on rookie campaign

Lefty is coming off an elbow injury after posting a 4.40 ERA in 50 appearances

Hollands committed to improve on rookie campaign

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mario Hollands is no longer one of the relative unknowns entering Phillies camp.

Hollands is a favorite to win a bullpen job following a mostly successful rookie season, when the 26-year-old left-hander surprised people and made the Opening Day roster. He went 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 50 appearances, but he finished the season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow.

An offseason of rest has him back on track and ready to compete. Left-hander Jake Diekman is a lock to make the bullpen. Rule 5 Draft pick Andy Oliver also is in camp, but other lefties in Spring Training seem destined to open the season in the Minor Leagues.

"I'm not assuming anything," Hollands said Saturday morning at Bright House Field. "I'm pretending like it's last year and I'm trying to make the team out of camp. Nothing has been given to me. Nothing was given to me last year, and I don't assume a spot is going to be given to me this year."

Hollands entered Spring Training last year in midseason form following a lengthy stint in winter ball in Venezuela.

"If I wasn't season-ready coming from Venezuela, I don't think I would have made the team," Hollands said.

Hollands' apparent injury

Hollands went 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 32 appearances through June 28. He got hit in his right knee by a line drive on July 2, which forced him to leave the game. He had a 15.26 ERA in eight appearances that month before posting a 2.89 ERA in his final 10 appearances.

Hollands' elbow injury forced him to miss the last month of the season.

"I wasn't happy with that rough stretch where I was getting hit around a little bit," Hollands said. "I doubted some of my stuff a little bit. But I think I did OK. I could definitely improve. I learned a lot."

Hollands' strong relief outing

The learning never stops for Hollands. He earned an associate of arts degree in merchandise marketing at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles in December. He previously earned a bachelor's in sociology from UC-Santa Barbara.

Hollands hopes to intern in the offseason, perhaps in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Philadelphia.

"I might be the only person in here with two degrees," Hollands said. "It gave me something to do in the fall, because I couldn't golf or really do any upper-body workouts because of the elbow."

Hollands said the elbow feels fine. He has thrown about a half-dozen bullpen sessions already.

"A little nervous," Hollands said about entering camp, "just because I haven't seen a batter in a while. Besides that, it's nice getting to throw a little bit more."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.