The Orioles are making the expected move and placing Jason Berken on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder. Rick VandenHurk is joining the club from Triple-A Norfolk and will be available tonight.
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to discuss the MRI results until the doctor met with Berken, but he said it isn’t a surgery situation. The Orioles are hoping that Berken can pitch again this season.
Berken’s DL assignment is retroactive to Friday. He’s eligible to return on Aug. 28.
“If you took the 25 pitchers in the two clubhouses, you won’t have a clean MRI on there, just to understand that,” Showalter said. “The good Lord didn’t intend for us to put our arm over our head and jerk it down violently 100 times every fifth day. That’s why we walk around with our arms hanging down. That’s why slow-pitch softball pitchers never have a bad arm.”
Showalter pointed out again that Berken’s velocity was fine, but the reliever wasn’t finishing his pitches and they had lost their crispness. His slider no longer had that late break that made it so effective in the first half.
“I also read the body language a little bit. You can tell when a guy’s out there without his bullets,” Showalter said.
“Everybody that’s been here knows how well he’s pitched. I’ve got to make sure that he understands that I know it, too, because I don’t want him pushing to get back and jeopardizing the things he might be doing for us in the future.”
VandenHurk will work out of the bullpen initially, but he’s also an option to start later this summer as the young arms in the rotation take on more innings. It sounds like he’s here to stay.
VandenHurk, acquired from the Marlins in the Will Ohman trade, is 9-5 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 Triple-A starts, with 44 walks and 94 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings. He’s 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts with Norfolk, the most recent coming on Thursday, when he held Indianapolis to one run and three hits in eight innings.