Hand helps alleviate some strain on bullpen

Hand helps alleviate some strain on bullpen

MIAMI -- Marlins left-hander Brad Hand is getting accustomed to expecting the unexpected. The 25-year-old's number was called in the first inning on Tuesday night.

The Braves rocked Mat Latos for seven runs in two-thirds of an inning, resulting in Hand taking the mound 28 minutes after the first pitch. The lefty was one of the few bright spots for the Marlins in their disheartening 12-2 loss at Marlins Park.

Hand worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings, facing 15 batters. Latos, meanwhile, exited after allowing an RBI single to Eric Young Jr., the 10th batter he faced.

"I was ready," Hand said.

Actually, it took one batter for Hand to settle into a groove. He walked the first hitter he faced, Jace Peterson, before retiring Nick Markakis on a groundout.

From there, Hand struck out three and allowed an infield single before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.

"The first inning or so, I was kind of feeling for it a little bit," Hand said. "I got into a little bit of a groove there. In my situation, I've just got to be ready whenever. I could come in early in the game. I could come in late in the game. I've always got to be ready."

The Marlins are off to a rough start, dropping the first two to the Braves. Tuesday was a taxing one on the bullpen, as five relievers picked up the final 8 1/3 innings.

"We've got to eat up 8 1/3 innings," manager Mike Redmond said. "Fortunately, we were able to get Brad Hand to give us some good quality innings."

Hand has been used in a number of roles in his career. A year ago, he appeared in 32 games, making 16 starts. Since being called up in 2011, he has 53 appearances -- 31 of them starts.

Hand and David Phelps are the two long relievers on the staff. Both ended up throwing Tuesday.

"These first two games haven't been very good," Hand said. "But it was a good start to get out there and get a few innings in."

On Tuesday, he got in 4 1/3 innings. But now he will get at least a couple of days to rest after throwing 70 pitches.

Hand's next assignment could come at any time.

"It could be anything," he said. "You've just got to always be ready whenever they call down. Always expect it to be your name."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.