Still pitching a fit

Brad Bergesen mentioned after last night's 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays that he failed to slow down the game in the third inning. He was gripping and ripping.

As I've written in the past, a lot of young starters tend to slow the pace too much and compound their problems. The defense falls asleep. But in Bergesen's case, he can't find the brakes when he needs to pump them.

The defense should have been on its toes, with Bergesen pitching like his hair was on fire, but it was dismal.

The starters can't run up a pitch count of 83 after three innings. The fielders can't miss ground balls and throws from the outfield. And J.J. Hardy can't be expected to hit a home run every time he steps to the plate.

Bergesen might have punched his ticket to the bullpen again. It still beats pitching every five days in the International League.

A lot depends on how Chris Tillman fares tomorrow in New York. He could be here for a spot start or he could force his way into the rotation.

The rotation is in flux. Jeremy Guthrie could remain a part of it, or he could be traded. There's no way to project it until we get past Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail continues to talk trade with teams interested in Guthrie and reliever Koji Uehara. He hesitates to place odds on whether a deal will be struck or to characterize the discussions because of all the variables, including the dominoes that fall as other starters and relievers are dealt.

For example, the Cardinals no longer need a starter or reliever. Cross them off the list of potential suitors.

The Tigers remain in play. Their starter options are dwindling.

Also, teams that were deemed buyers could become sellers or stagnant. All it takes is a losing streak.

You can be sure of one thing: There won't be a blockbuster like the Erik Bedard trade to Seattle. Nothing of that magnitude.

And you can be sure of this: If anyone is moved, it'll be a player who's been considered a prime trade chip for a while - most likely Guthrie or Uehara. There won't be a shocker.

Speaking of Bedard, the Orioles aren't interested in reacquiring him. Also not a shocker. Other teams will scout his start tonight. The Orioles aren't going to give up what it takes to rent him.

Lots of people in the industry expect him to re-sign with the Mariners as a free agent if he's traded. Bedard loves the city, the ballpark, the low-pressure environment and the proximity to Canada.

If you're hoping for a reunion, you'll be disappointed.

And speaking of Uehara, what happens to him could impact what happens to Jim Johnson the rest of the season.

The Orioles have discussed moving Johnson into the rotation, but it becomes more difficult if Uehara is traded. It's tough enough for manager Buck Showalter to find reliable relievers. They've mostly been situated in the back end of the bullpen. Remove Uehara and Johnson, and it gets real ugly.

When I asked MacPhail whether he'd have concerns about the late-inning relief if Uehara is dealt, he replied, "That's something you'd have to consider."

Again, it would have to be a really good return for the Orioles to pull the trigger.

The decision on Johnson also could be impacted by how well Tillman, Zach Britton and Alfredo Simon pitch, and whether Guthrie is traded. If a need doesn't develop, Johnson could stay in the bullpen.

"It's not a foregone conclusion either way," MacPhail said.


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