PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun needed one look at the redwood of a right-hander named Michael Olmsted to declare him the nastiest pitcher in baseball.
"I'm serious," Braun said.
Braun was one of the Brewers hooting behind the batting cage Wednesday while the 6-foot-6, 245-pound (or so the official roster says) Olmsted threw live batting practice. Olmsted could hear the buzz.
"You can't miss it, it's so quiet out there with no one else out there," he said. "It's a good feeling, you know? Obviously, it's their first or second time seeing live pitching, so you don't expect them to be 100 percent on everything. I know I'm going to fool a few guys; everybody's going to fool a few guys the first couple of live BPs. But it's definitely a good feeling."
Olmsted's size is only part of his intimidation factor. Add a fastball that he says varied between 93-97 mph last season -- "With sink," Scooter Gennett said. "Nasty." -- and a cross-body, three-quarters delivery to complete the package.
He also comes with a compelling human interest story, having been released by the Mets in 2010 before toiling in Japan's Minor League. He returned to the U.S. to be with his mother, who was suffering from cancer and was slipping in and out of a coma, for the final 23 days of her life, then asked for his release from Japan and considered his career over.
Only it was not. He was picked up by the Red Sox the following year and signed with the Brewers as a Minor League free agent in early November and was added to their 40-man roster. Olmsted will be 26 in May and is bidding for a bullpen spot.
"Not many guys get a second chance, let alone a third chance," Olmsted said.