Berken up the right tree

If you're prone to obsessing over spring training records, the rebuilding Indians are 5-0. They're the only unbeaten team in the Cactus League.

The offensively challenged Giants are 8-2. The Royals are 4-3. The Dodgers are 2-4. The Angels are 2-5.

The Rays are 9-1 in the Grapefruit League, their only loss coming against the Orioles in the opener. Final score: 12-2.

The Blue Jays are 5-3 and the Yankees are 4-5.

The Cardinals, the favorites to win the NL Central, are 3-5.

What's it all mean?

What's it all about, Alfie?

As long as we're playing with numbers, Orioles pitcher Jason Berken has allowed only one hit in four scoreless innings. He's walked one and struck out two.

Berken blanked the Pirates for two innings in Wednesday night's game in Bradenton. Manager Dave Trembley praised the right-hander for an adjustment he made after his first inning that kept the ball from rising over the plate.

"It's been a problem my whole career," Berken said. "It's a matter of getting settled down and getting under control. I came out there and tried to do a little bit too much with my pitches, but I was able to get through that first inning without any damage."

Berken had a conference with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and catcher Matt Wieters between innings.

"They said just concentrate on keeping the ball down and trying to stay within myself," Berken said. "That's been the hardest thing for me. I've done well with it this year. Just simplify my delivery and really try to stay within myself and just concentrate on keeping the ball down. That's the one thing that hurt me a lot last year, missing up in the zone. That second inning, the big difference was all my pitches came down.

"Slot-wise and mechanically, I'm pretty much the same. It's more my mindset and my tempo gets a little quick and I start working a little too fast and rushing to the plate and the ball starts getting up on me. But once I get settled in and slow things down, it seems like a big difference."


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