Earlier this week, Dave Trembley talked about finding out “who wants it” in his bullpen and basically that some roles could be open to those that pitch well and grasp them.
For now, though, Jason Berken is not changing roles.
He’s been valuable in long relief, going 0-0, 1.32 in six games over 13 2/3 innings. He pitched the ninth last night because he needed work. The skipper has been tempted to give Berken work later in the game, but for now, he remains in long relief.
“Yes, there has been some thought to pitching him later in the games,” Trembley said today. “But I’m of the mindset that when someone is doing well in a particular role and it’s the first time they are in that role, to leave them alone and let them continue to get better in that role.
“I’m not reluctant to put him in another role if need be. Say if Johnson pitched a couple of nights in a row and needed a night off. Right now Berken is a valuable guy as a long man.
“We have so many guys on the club that are one-inning guys. If something happens and you used Berken two or three nights in a row in a one-inning stint and you needed a long guy, you could leave yourself wide open if you do that. You manage it one game at time, but still have to look at it in its totality.”
After AL batters hit .327 vs. Berken last year, they are batting just .224 vs. him now. He has given up just two hits in 23 at bats (.087) vs. left-handed hitters to date.
Berken will pitch wherever he is needed, but for now, is not campaigning to pitch later in games.
“I’ve said since day one and you guys are probably sick of hearing it, but I just want to do whatever they want. I want to be a part of this team and help any way I can.”
Berken has allowed 11 hits in 13 2/3 on the year with two walks to nine strikeouts.
The sixth-round pick out of Clemson in 2006 is having Major League success right now for the first time.
He credits pitching down in the zone more and also says Mark Hendrickson has been a big help to him. They’ve talked about dealing with life as long relievers where you can go days without pitching.
For now Berken will continue working just as he has.
AL leaders - lowest opponents batting average vs. left-handed hitters: (min, 20 batters faced)
.080 - Daniel Bard, Boston
.087 - Jason Berken, Baltimore
.087 - Francisco Liriano, Minnesota