After nine years in baseball, most of in the minor leagues, Donovan Hand is still having fun.
He still wakes up each morning eager to get to the ball park, eager to play a kid’s game even though he’s inching toward 30 years old.
He knows at some point he’ll have to grow up and become an adult. But why hurry, as long as his wife and one year old daughter are OK with daddy playing baseball for a living.
Hand, the former Hatton High School and Jacksonville State standout, changed major league organizations this past offseason, signing a minor league free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds jerseys after spending eight seasons with Milwaukee. He got a taste of the big leagues in 2013 with the Brewers jerseys, and two weeks ago he spent two days with the Reds jerseys after getting called up from Triple A Louisville.
“It feels like a true blessing,” Hand said recently before a game at Scranton. “How many 29 year olds get to do what I am doing? In 2004, who thought I would still be playing at 29?”
Hand’s high school coach, Brent Gillespie, isn’t surprised his former ace is still playing professionally.
“I thought he might have made a major league roster by now,” Gillespie said. “He has succeeded in everything they have had him do.”
Hand appeared to get his big break with the Brewers jerseys when he was called up at mid season in 2013 and made seven starts, posting a 1 5 record with a respectable 3.69 ERA. But after that audition, he spent 2014 back at Triple A Nashville.
As a six year minor leaguer, Hand became a free agent cheap jerseys after the 2014 season. Although plenty of teams inquired about his services, Hand narrowed down the list to the Reds jerseys, the Atlanta Braves jerseys and a return to the Brewers jerseys.
He ultimately chose the Reds jerseys because of the opportunity they were offering.
“It was about finding the right fit,” Hand said of the decision. “You look around and see what each team has and what they need. The Braves jerseys are loaded with pitching and the Brewers jerseys were kind of a last resort. My agent did a good job of picking the right organization. He has a good relationship with the front office (of the Reds jerseys) and we thought it was the best opportunity to get back to the majors.”
Hand hoped for a major league camp invitation but had to settle for a one year minor league contract. He has served a dual role at Louisville he began as a reliever but has moved into the starting rotation. He has made seven starts and boasts a 1 3 record with a 4.50 ERA.
With Cincinnati short on pitching two weeks ago, Hand got called up and pitched three scoreless innings against Detroit. A day later, he was sent back to Louisville when outfielder Marlon Byrd was activated off the disabled list.
“Hopefully, I made a good impression,” he said. “When they told me I was going back to Louisville, they told me I did a good job. I just came back down and want to do my thing pitch well and get back up.”
Hand was put on the team’s 40 man roster when he was called up to the Reds jerseys. With rumors swirling that the Reds jerseys might move ace cheap Johnny Cueto jersey, starter cheap Mike Leake jersey and possibly closer cheap Aroldis Chapman jersey at the trade deadline, Hand could find himself back in the majors sooner rather than later. That’s the goal anyway.
“I still look at is that I am 29 years old from Hatton High School and Jacksonville State,” he said. “I was fortunate that I work six or seven months out of the year to provide for my family doing something that I wanted to do from the time I was six. Until they tell me to quit and as long as I still have a chance to pitch in the big leagues, I’m going to keep doing this.”
Gillespie said his Hand hasn’t changed much since he played in high school.
“He’s the same old Donovan,” said Gillespie, who talks and texts with Hand regularly. “He’s the same kid I call him a kid even though he is 29 and a grown man, providing for his family. He still comes around in the offseason and hangs out with the kids. He’s a good role model.”