McCollum enjoying 'surreal' part-time gig

McCollum enjoying 'surreal' part-time gig

MILWAUKEE -- Teams usually want left-handed pitchers who are tough to hit, but the Dodgers spent Spring Training looking for one who is easy to hit. They finally found one, which means that Wes McCollum has the coolest part-time gig of any 24-year-old from Brea, Calif.

A month ago, McCollum was giving private baseball lessons to amateurs at Lifeletics in Huntington Beach, but he also was throwing batting practice to Dodgers backup catcher Matt Treanor, who recommended McCollum when the Dodgers were struggling to find a left-handed batting-practice pitcher.

McCollum had a late Spring Training audition -- first in Minor League camp, a day later throwing to Major League pitchers and a day after that to Major League hitters. By the end of camp, he had been offered a job to travel with the Major League club, stay at the Major League hotel and receive Major League meal money.

Not bad for a playing career that peaked at Missouri Valley College.

"It's still sort of surreal," said McCollum, who still works at Lifeletics when the club is home, as longtime left-handed BP pitcher Pete Bonfils handles duties at Dodger Stadium. "It's hard to put into words, especially when I explain it to friends and family."

McCollum said that before his first trip, to San Diego, "I was skeptical and apprehensive. I didn't know what to expect."

And now?

"I just listen a lot," he said. "I'm spending a lot of time throwing in the batting cage and listening to [hitting coach] Dave Hansen and learning how to act around a big league club. So far, I haven't hit anybody with a pitch. My friends say whatever I do, don't hit [Matt] Kemp or [Andre] Ethier."