There are not a lot of Orioles producing quality stats so far. It’s a short list.
But pitcher Jason Berken is on it.
In a mild surprise, Berken made the Opening Day staff as a long reliever. After going 6-12, 6.54 in 24 starts in 2009, this role is new to him.
In 69 career minor league outings, the 2006 sixth-round draft pick made 66 starts.
Last Tuesday, Berken pitched a scoreless inning vs. Tampa, then Wednesday, after Brad Bergesen’s early exit, Berken pitched five innings of three-hit, one-run ball, throwing 74 pitches.
“That’s my role as a long guy to come in and eat up as many innings as I can. I came in and threw the ball pretty well and got through five. Whatever I can do to help.
“My main focus all spring was keeping the ball down. That’s what killed me last year, getting the ball up. My focus was keeping the ball down and mixing my pitches up. Against Tampa (Wednesday) I did that.”
Berken’s outing Wednesday meant the O’s took a fresh bullpen to the West Coast. He took one for the team and that meant others didn’t need to pitch in that game vs. Tampa.
In three outings, Berken has allowed just 2 ER over 8 2/3 for an ERA of 2.08.
He feels he’s adapted well and done so pretty quickly to working out of the bullpen.
“Biggest concern for me was getting loose and adjusted to that. It’s come pretty easy for me actually. It’s nice in a way coming to the park not sure if you will pitch or not, something to look forward to. So far, so good.”
Last year, the 26-year-old Berken took his lumps on the mound, giving up 164 hits in 120 innings. But a year later, he is off to a good start, even though his team is not.
Berken has not pitched yet in the Oakland series, but is off to a good start in his new role.
Berken’s 2010 appearances:
4-10 vs. Tor: 2 2/3IP, 2H, 1R-ER, 1B, 0K.....23 pitches
4-13 vs. TB: 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0B, 0K.................11 pitches
4-14 vs. TB: 5IP, 3H, 1R-ER, 1B, 5K, 1 HR.....74 pitches