PHILADELPHIA -- Mario Hollands had one word to describe his reaction to being named to the Phillies' Opening Day roster: shocking.
Hollands, a left-handed pitcher who was one of the bright spots in Spring Training, will start the season in the big leagues after making nearly every stop in Philadelphia's farm system over the last four years.
The 25-year-old had an impressive spring, but that didn't stop Hollands from expecting the worst when he was called into manager Ryne Sandberg's office on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
"In the back of your mind, you're not expecting it, honestly," said Hollands, who joins an eight-man bullpen. "But it was a good shock. I'm still in shock a little bit."
The Phillies like Hollands' funky delivery, which Sandberg said "creates some ground balls," his effectiveness against both right-handed and left-handed batters and his ability to pitch multiple innings. They also think he can handle the big league stage after performing at a high level in the Venezuelan Winter League for Tiburones de La Guaira over the offseason.
"I think he benefited from playing in Venezuela this past winter," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That's a high level of competition and a high level of stress there as well. When you start throwing in those situations and start having success in those areas, that's important."
Hollands said his experience in Venezuela prepared him for Major League camp.
"I think it helped confidence-wise, being able to compete against big leaguers and good players and good teams," Hollands said. "I carried that over into Spring Training."
Hollands still has a long road ahead to remain in the Majors, but he allowed himself a moment to reflect on years of hard work to get to this level.
"It's kind of rewarding, because I've been all over the place the last two years in the organization," Hollands said. "It feels good to know it paid off in the end, to at least make it this far and hopefully keep it going into the season."