August 11, 2012
Calgary's Henderson saves Brewers bullpen
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - In less than a month, Jim Henderson has gone from a minor-leaguer to a must-have in fantasy baseball circles.
Less than three weeks after making his first big-league appearance, the Calgary-raised fireballer is suddenly the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers.
“He’s the one guy that’s throwing the ball good,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. “We’ll give the ball to him and see what happens there.”
It wasn’t that long ago that all the 29-year-old wanted was an opportunity to pitch at the highest level.
Since graduating from the Calgary Dawgs program in 2003, Henderson’s lengthy resume has included 313 minor-league outings for 10 different teams.
The right-handed hurler was named the closer for Brewers’ AAA affiliate in Nashville this season and didn’t squander the opportunity, posting a 4-3 record, a 1.69 earned run average and 15 saves and even earning an invite to the all-star game.
Heading into Saturday’s meeting with the Houston Astros, his big-league numbers were equally impressive.
In eight appearances, Henderson had posted a 2.57 ERA and struck out 10 batters while only issuing one free pass. He was 2-for-2 on save opportunities, giving Roenicke a reason to shuffle his bullpen brigade.
“Everybody knows my journey now, 10 years,” Henderson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I feel like I have these two months to prove I can stay here. I’m putting some pressure on myself from that aspect to go out there and try to pitch well every day.
“I’m a 29-year-old rookie. You don’t get too many shots at that stage. I’m hoping to make the best out of the opportunity.”
Just earning a big-league call-up made Henderson a feel-good story on both sides of the border.
Now, with more-established stoppers John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez struggling, the Brew Crew will give him an opportunity to work the crucial ninth inning.
Ironically, Henderson told the Calgary Sun Axford and Rodriguez were among the first to make him feel welcome at Miller Park.
“I think the biggest thing was after my first outing, having guys like Axford and K-Rod and Ryan Braun — guys that have been around the game a long time and been very successful — coming up and telling me ‘Congrats’ and ‘Welcome.’ That’s something I never really thought would happen,” Henderson said.
He probably didn’t imagine getting save opportunities so soon, either.
“These guys are so good, it’s hard to watch them struggle,” Henderson told Brewers.com. “It’s not a situation you wish for, but it is an opportunity for me the next two months, and hopefully, I can prove that I belong here.”
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson