Reliever Brad Bergesen is in the process of boarding a flight to Chicago. He won’t get into Baltimore until early tomorrow morning.
Then he’ll wait.
Bergesen was designated for assignment this afternoon to make room on the 25-man roster for Tommy Hunter, who’s starting against the Twins. If he clears waivers, he’ll accept the outright assignment and board another flight to Syracuse, where Triple-A Norfolk will be playing.
Bergesen could refuse the assignment, but he’d forfeit the rest of his $800,000 salary, which isn’t a consideration. He accepted the assignment back in May and will do so again if he’s unclaimed.
The Orioles surprised Bergesen by purchasing his contract before last night’s game, and they had another shocker for him today.
“It’s been a weird year for me,” he said. “Obviously, they’ve been calling tons of people up, so I knew there was always that possibility. But I was surprised when I did get the call because it came so late at night and I left the next morning, and I’m surprised that I got designated today, just for the fact that the bullpen has been used so much and I thought I might at least get a chance last night or today, that maybe they’d get some use out of me and then maybe make a move. I’m surprised by the fact that I didn’t get to pitch and that I was designated, too.”
The last part is the real head-scratcher. Bergesen simply could have been optioned, but the Orioles removed him from the 40-man roster, leaving an open spot.
“I’m not sure why,” Bergesen said.
Bergesen was removed from Norfolk’s rotation and placed in the bullpen, where he’s posted a 2.89 ERA in 12 appearances.
“It’s the first time I’ve gotten consistency in the bullpen,” he said. “Last year, I was sort of thrown into it when I lost my starting job, and getting acclimated was tough. This year, I’ve had a chance to settle into it and get into a routine. I think I have good versatility because I’m able to do both.”
Assuming Bergesen clears waivers again, he’ll be reunited with Steve Johnson, who allowed one run and three hits in six innings tonight at Norfolk. Johnson walked one and struck out two. He threw 95 pitches, 60 for strikes.
Update: Tommy Hunter surrendered his 21st home run in 84 innings, a solo shot by Josh Willingham in the fourth that reduced the Orioles’ lead to 2-1.
Update II: Willingham’s homer is the only run off Hunter through seven innings. He’s given up six hits, walked none and struck out none. Pretty unusual to see a starter with no walks or strikeouts.
Hunter has thrown 103 pitches, 71 for strikes, and he’s allowed manager Buck Showalter to lay off the bullpen. Just what the Orioles needed tonight.
The Orioles are 34-0 when leading after seven innings. They’re ahead, 2-1, going to the bottom of the eighth.
Going back to Bergesen, he apparently lost his option after being designated in May and accepting the outright assignment. That explains why the Orioles had to designate him today. Sorry for the confusion.
Down on the farm, Single-A Frederick infielder Travis Adair, son of Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair, was needed in relief tonight with the Keys trailing Salem, 12-1. He retired the only batter he faced on one pitch to end the top of the seventh inning, and led off the bottom half with his first home run.
Adair gave up two runs in the eighth, but he also struck out a batter.
Update III: Hunter got his strikeout, and it came against the only batter he faced in the eighth.
Final line: 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 1 HBP. Hunter threw 106 pitches, 74 for strikes.
Update IV: Jim Johnson’s mini-slump is over. He picked up the save tonight, his 27th in 29 opportunities, in the Orioles’ 2-1 victory.
Mark Reynolds made a sensational diving catch on Brian Dozier’s bunt to record the first out and keep the potential tying run at first base.
The Orioles are 17-6 in one-run games. A loss would have left them only one game above .500 for the first time since April 21 (8-7).