Results tagged ‘ Jason Berken ’

Fenway Finale

Opening day 029.jpg


Greetings from Fenway’s finale,
where the Orioles look to salvage a game and snap a five-game skid in the
process. This will be Tim Wakefield’s last start before moving to the bullpen
to clear a spot for Dice-K (who has been on the DL with a neck strain). David
Hernandez
will oppose Wakefield, and like every Orioles starter not named Brian
Matusz
, he’s hoping to get his first win.

*Nolan Reimold is batting leadoff for the first time in his Major
League career. “Now, I just need to bat 9th and I’m all set,”
Reimold said. Yes, the lineup’s been shuffled that much lately.   A patient hitter by nature, Reimold said he
will steal if the position presents itself, pointing out his one stolen base
this spring.

*Rhyne Hughes is starting again today after an impressive two-hit
Major League debut. Manager Dave Trembley
noted that Hughes didn’t seem overwhelmed by the moment Saturday night and when
I talked to him briefly this morning he had the same ear-to-ear grin he’s been sporting
since

*For what Garrett Atkins thinks
about being bench for Hughes, check out my story yesterday. This is an
interesting situation to keep an eye on…

*Down in Triple-A Brad Bergesen will try to get back on
track and make his first start for Norfolk.  The Orioles are hoping he can get his
confidence back, refind his sinker and make that May 1 start. If not, they
could use either long men Jason Berken
or Mark Hendrickson to make a spot
start, or call up a guy like Jake Arrieta. That scenario isn’t likely since
they don’t really want to mess with Arrieta’s development, but it’s not something
I would rule out, either.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Nolan Reimold LF
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott DH
Ty Wigginton 2B
Rhyne Hughes 1B
Craig Tatum C
Cesar Izturis SS

David Hernandez RHP

RED SOX LINEUP

Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
David Ortiz DH
JD Drew RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Jonathan Van Every CF

Tim Wakefield RHP

Koji says DL, new 'pen plans

SARASOTA, Fla. — With no real timetable of when he will get
back on the mound, Orioles reliever Koji Uehara said Monday that he expects to
start the season on the disabled list.

 “If it happens,
there’s nothing I can do about it,” Koji said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. “Obviously
we don’t have many days before [April 6's] Opening Day, so you kind of expect
it.”

Uehara exit March 18’s game 
against the Toronto Blue Jays with a left hamstring strain and hasn’t
thrown on the mound since suffering the injury. 
Prior to Monday’s game, manager Dave Trembley said Koji would have to be
able to show he can throw by mid-week to avoid the DL.

Koji ‘s progression has been slow and deliberate -mostly
just light catch and running – but he said starting the season on the DL
wouldn’t be too disappointing.

“The more important thing is to be ready physically,” he
said.

If Uehara starts the season on the disabled list, it would
open up an extra bullpen slot, perhaps for a guy like Jason Berken, who has
pitched predominantly out of the ‘pen. Berken tossed four scoreless innings in
relief of Chris Tillman in his most recent outing Friday, and could give the
Orioles a second long-inning man to go along with Mark Hendrickson.

Right now, I’d say Berken is on the team’s Opening Day roster, with Cla Meredith, Matt Albers and Will Ohman to round it out. Kam Mickolio is another option, but the big right-hander has been sidelined the last few days with a sore groin and Trembley acknowledged he hasn’t pitched up to expectations. 

Albers is out of options –and pitching better — so the logical thing to do is keep him and have Mickolio get some more work in Triple-A. 

“I think he’s had a very good opportunity to show what he can do,” Trembley said of Mickolio. “Whether it’s been the best he can do, I’m not so sure. I think it’s been
kind of an up-and-down for him. I don’t mean to be very critical, but I
think he’s capable of doing better more consistently. I think he’s
shown glimpses of it. Other times he’s pitched in too many three-ball
counts. I don’t know if his leg has been bothering him for a while and
this has been a reason. There’s an awful lot in there. We just need to
get it out on a more consistent basis.”

In 9 1/3 spring innings, Mickolio has allowed two earned runs on seven hits. He’s struggled with his command, issuing seven walks (against 10 strikeouts) and told me today he will try to get back on the mound Tuesday to test his groin.

Could Tillman be left out?

Although it has been widely speculated that Chris Tillman
will be named the Orioles fifth starter out of Spring Training, manager Dave
Trembley and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail both said Saturday
that no decision has been made.

If anything, the decision has gotten tougher and more
multi-faceted as camp has progressed. Jason Berken and David Hernandez have
both turned in solid performances as of late, furthering speculation that
Tillman could start the season at Triple-A.

“The thing we try to impress on the kids is the obvious fact
that nobody uses the same 12 pitchers all year,” MacPhail said. “The beginning
of the season is just a snapshot in time.”

MacPhail said that Hernandez and Berken are “absolutely” still
in contention for the team’s fifth spot and acknowledged that the heated competition
has been a welcome one.

“What I was telling our staff is we got guys competing for
our spots and we don’t have spots competing for guys,” MacPhail said. “And that
is a pleasant development particularly as it relates to our pitching.”

Trembley has called the team’s bullpen competition a
dogfight, and following Hernandez’s five shutout innings on Saturday, he used a
similar comparison to describe what’s going on with the back end of the
rotation.

“I would say we’re going to go 15 rounds with it,”
Trembley said. “We’re going to go the distance and keep battling and keep
running these guys out here and try to make the right decision and the best
decision. Guys are answering the bell and they’re making it real tough for me.
And I like it.”

The Orioles schedule to open the 2010 season makes middle relievers, specifically long-inning men, a necessity. Since the team will go with a 12-man pitching staff this season having  flexibility in the bullpen, which a guy like Berken could potentially provide, is a must. A scenario such as April 8 and 9, where the team will play a night contest in Tampa before their home opener at 3 p.m. in Baltimore the next afternoon, puts extra emphasis on having guys who can toss multiple innings of relief.

Baltimore plays 16 straight games starting April 6 in Tampa Bay, which leaves no opportunity to skip a rotation slot since there are no off days. It also puts the O’s bullpen in a tough spot should a starter falter and force an early exit.  Berken, who tossed four scoreless innings to follow Tillman on Friday, has been stretched out this spring and could provide another option as a long relief or spot starter. Right now, the team’s only option in that role would be lefty Mark Hendrickson.

Hernandez thrust his name to the forefront of the No. 5 starter job with his most recent outing. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to a 3.00 in the process and impressed Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams -including a bases-loaded, no outs, scenario in the fourth.

Although he started the season pitching out of the ‘pen, Hernandez has capitalized on the recent opportunities he’s been given to start. He made his first appearance as a starter on March 16 and is 1-1 in two official spring starts, excluding a 75-pitch outing in a Minor League game last week.  In 15 innings, Hernandez has allowed five earned runs and has 20 strikeouts to three walks. He said Saturday he has not been given any indication as to where -or in what role — he will start the season.

“I’m just trying to go out there and do the best I can every performance,” Hernandez said.  “Whether it’s good enough or not, all I can say is I went out and gave it my best effort. And [Saturday] the results indicated that.”

To his credit, Tillman has said all along that he has approached this spring as a situation he must win, rather than have it handed to him. The 21-year-old was visibly frustrated with Friday’s performance, which was an 88-pitch outing that yielded two runs on four walks and four hits.  It’s worth noting that Tillman’s struggles came against a Minnesota lineup that didn’t have the power bats of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, two Twins who would certainly be in a regular season game. 

In five spring games, Tillman has a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio (9k/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given the fact that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off and they won’t carry that extra 13th pitcher.

Although Berken is still considered more of a long shot to swoop in for the fifth spot, he has pitched his way into recognition, particularly in that sorely-needed middle relief role.So far, he has not been stretched as far as the other two, but Berken has had a solid spring and certainly has built up enough arm strength to pitch for long stretches out of the ‘pen.

Berken has a 2.84 ERA this spring, with seven strikeouts against three walks.

Wieters, Jones not fazed by contract renewals

The Orioles renewed the contracts of right-hander
Jason Berken, centerfielder Adam Jones, left fielder Nolan Reimold and
catcher Matt Wieters for the 2010 season. And on Monday morning, all the players were saying the right things.

“I understand their side and I still get paid pretty good to play this game. So it’s definitely not a big deal,” Wieters said.

The 23-year-old Wieters, considered to be a cornerstone of the franchise, said what transpired this year won’t harbor any ill feelings for the future and it will be easy to put it out of his mind.

“That’s why you have agents. That’s why you have all the business people looking out on your side because all you do is go out there and play,” Wieter said. “That’s how you stay in this game for a long time. You can’t worry about that stuff.”

Added Jones: “It can’t be [in your mind]. You look at it, if it’s all going to work out, it works out.

“Before you are arbitration eligible, I guess they can do whatever they want. Let the process take care of itself.”

Jones said he hasn’t heard anything about a potential long-term deal, but acknowledged that the situation of teammate Nick Markakis’ makes the news easier to swallow. The organization renewed Nick Markakis in 2008 before agreeing to a six-year, 60-million dollar deal to avoid arbitration last winter.

“Both sides will come to something,” said Jones, who will be arbitration eligible in 2011.

“If they want me to be around a long time, I’d love to be around a long time. I think they expressed the same interest. Let Andy (MacPhail) and my agent [JR Sports], let them do their work.”

The 23-year-old Wieters hit .288 with nine homers in his first taste of the Major Leagues last season, and is seen as a cornerstone of the franchise. Wieters will be asked to steer a rotation that is projected to include Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman.

Berken  went 6-12 in with a 6.54 ERA in 24 games last season and is
expected to start the year at Triple-A Norfolk or as a candidate for the
Orioles bullpen. Jones, and All-Star selection and Golden Glove winner
had a breakout season shortened by injury. The 24-year-old hit .277 with
19 homers and 70 RBIs in 119 games.

Reimold has been slowed
this spring after undergoing left Achilles tendon surgery in September,
but is slated to start the Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The
26-year-old hit .279 with 15 homers in 104 games and is projected to be
the Orioles starting left fielder as part of a platoon with Felix Pie.

The Orioles also announced Monday that they have agreed to terms with 22
players on one-year contracts
for 2010.

The list of players recently signed includes: Robert Andino, Michael
Aubrey, Josh Bell, Brad Bergesen, Alberto Castillo, Brandon Erbe, Pedro
Florimon, David Hernandez, Rhyne Hughes, Jim Johnson, Luis Lebron, Kam
Mickolio, Lou Montanez, Troy Patton, Wilfrido Perez, Felix Pie, Dennis
Sarfate, Brandon Snyder, Chorye Spoone, Craig Tatum, Chris Tillman and
Justin Turner.

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