Bergesen looks to recapture his good sinker as he gets set to face Yankees

It’s been an interesting few weeks for O’s pitcher Brad Bergesen.

Late in spring training, he took a line drive off his right forearm and he had to battle back from that. For four days, he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk even if he never actually physically was with that team.

Now Bergesen is trying to regain the form that made him the best Orioles starter in 2009 when he went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA. He is trying to recapture the form that allowed him to crank out quality sinker after quality sinker to get hitters out.

Tonight, Bergesen will take the mound against the Yankees. While he is 0-2 with an ERA of 3.38 so far on the season, he is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in four career games versus New York.

Bergesen said he felt he threw a few sinkers in last start Sunday at Cleveland that reminded him of his 2009 self. Still, he gave up three runs, two earned, over five innings.

“Yeah, last Sunday when I pitched, there were definitely a lot of positives out of the outing. It’s definitely one I’m not really happy with. But all things in consideration, it’s a good building block,” he said.

After pitching just 17 innings in the spring, he is still building some endurance and arm strength now as he gets into a routine of pitching every fifth day.

“Arm strength is feeling good,” he said. “I threw about 88 pitches that last outing and Buck (Showalter) told me he wanted to keep me at 85. I felt like I could have gone out there for another one.”

The last few weeks have been turbulent for Bergesen, but he dealt with a lot of adversity last year and maybe he’s getting used to it by now.

“It is tough, very tough. But it’s also the hand I was dealt with. What can you do?” Bergesen said. “You just mentally and physically prepare the best way you know how to for whatever that role might be. Whether it was long relief, a spot start, getting back in the rotation. Whatever this team needed, I was up for it.

“So far, it’s just a matter of a routine, knowing my exact role. That is something that’s been a battle for me to get the right mindset because it has changed so many times. But it’s whatever we need right now, so I am preparing myself the best way I can to give it my all.”

Bergesen finished with an ERA of 2.85 over his last 12 starts last season, but he just never felt that comfortable throwing his bread-and-butter pitch, the sinker, then. He wants to get back to that now and rely on fewer four-seam fastballs that he felt he needed to throw late in the 2010 season.

“There is something to that (getting back to more sinkers). Last year, it was really tough because my two-seamer had just kind of completely gone away and I had to develop more four-seamers,” he said. “But I’ve continued to work on it (during) the offseason and spring training. I feel more comfortable with it now and it’s something I am trying to get back to again.”

He said he has put last year, when he went 8-12 with a 4.98 ERA, in the rear-view mirror. Sometimes, though, Bergesen thinks back to that 2009 year when he pitched so well and he says he can do that again.

“We always are trying to take away the positives and forget the negatives and for me, ‘09, my rookie year, I had a really nice stretch there for a while. Yes, there are things I try to pull from that, but at the same time, I am not going to constantly linger or just hold on to that. If it’s more mechanically or something I need to figure out, there are times I will go back and look at some ‘09 film,” Bergesen said.

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