By all accounts, 2011 was a lost season for Zach Braddock.
After posting a 1-2 record with a 2.94 ERA in 2010, the 24-year-old made the opening day roster for the first time in his brief major league career last spring and figured to be a key part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen.
In early May, though, Braddock went to the 15-day disabled list with a sleep disorder. At the time, some raised eyebrows thinking the move was just a ruse by the Brewers in order to create a roster spot for Nyjer Morgan, himself coming off the disabled list.
But the issue was no clever creation. He’d been suffering from the disorder for years, and this particular bout left him out of action for nearly a month. When he returned to the roster, he didn’t stay in Milwaukee long. He was demoted to Class AAA Nashville a few weeks later.
Braddock started out with respectable numbers but finished the year with a 0-1 record and a 7.27 ERA in 25 appearances (17 1/3 innings).
“It was difficult,” Braddock said of 2011. “It was difficult not gaining a steady routine, and really having that sense of flow and rhythm to my game, which helps in the long run, to increase stability and go forth in creating the overall consistency. As a bullpen guy you have to come in everyday and be ready to go, so that’s pretty much my goal.”
With bullpen spots available this season, following the free-agent departures of LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito, Braddock is ready to prove he belongs back in the big leagues. He’s confident that he’s dealt with his sleep issues appropriately and that they won’t have an impact as they did a year ago.
“It was harder than I ever could have imagined,” Braddock said. “Coming into games, without sleeping for two days or so, just trying to mentally battle that, after just knowing that you don’t have your A-game, and wanting to win for your teammates. … I felt like I was a little self-defeated. I felt like I was trying to do as much as I could, but ultimately it was my body not letting me do it.
“I’ve got a good handle on it now. Just really excited to get back.”
Reporting taken from interviews provided by the Milwaukee Brewers.