After going 0-2, 12.19 in his first three starts this year for the Orioles, pitcher Brad Bergesen was sent to Triple-A Norfolk to work out his issues and try to get his sinker back.
There he will be reunited with pitching coach Mike Griffin. In 2008, Bergesen went 15-6, 3.22 at Bowie with Griffin as pitching coach.
Bergesen was expected to arrive in Norfolk today and Griffin will be waiting.
“First of all, he and I will sit down and talk and find out exactly what he feels and thinks. We’ll talk behind closed doors and talk about what he is feeling or not feeling right now.
“I need to hear what he is feeling or not with the pitch (the sinker). I’ve been with him two years, so I will digest what he says and reflect back to 2008 and 2009 when I worked with him.”
Bergesen has allowed 21 hits, 14 for extra bases, in 10 1/3 innings with AL hitters batting .420 against him so far.
Griffin might find a pitcher whose confidence could be shaken, but hardly shattered.
“This kid is probably one of the most mentally tough pitchers I’ve ever worked with.
“I’ve had Arrieta, Bergesen, Hernandez, Berken, Tillman, Erbe and so on. Our scouts should be proud and our organization with the makeup of those guys. I don’t have to worry about work ethic with those guys. I don’t have to ask them, they are waiting for me on the mound.”
Griffin said he is convinced that Bergesen has the quality pitches to succeed in the Majors.
“He has the stuff to pitch in the Majors, there is no question in my mind. Bergesen can win at the Major League level. No question whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta is off to a 1-0, 0.50 start at Norfolk in three starts. His ERA is second best in the International League. Opponent batters are hitting .183 vs. the right-hander.
“The learning experience that he got last year and the things he needed to work on he has and he’s put it all together at the start of this season,” Griffin said.
Arrieta has been throwing more ground balls this year with a 2.15 ratio of grounders to fly balls.
“Yes, it’s improved this year. You like to see that from a pitcher, any time you can keep it out of the air is a good thing.
“He’s also working on getting ahead in the counts and getting outs early in the count. Also his fastball command and he’s doing that pretty good right now. Coming into 2010 he’s done nicely with those three things.”
I asked Griffin if Arrieta’s nine walks in 18 innings has been an issue.
“There are certain hitters, whether it’s a game situation where you have a base open with a lefty up and right-hander on deck, there’s been a few of those so far. That’s where some walks come in. He has been doing a tremendous job of getting ahead of hitters.”
So the big question is this - is Arrieta now ready for his first crack at the Major Leagues?
“We’re just three starts in, it’s tough to say right now. He is pitching well and doing things he needed to get done, absolutely. Usually you can tell more with five or ten starts under your belt.
“Most certainly with the things I’ve asked him to do, he has made those improvements and is on the right track right now.”
Two others notes from my conversation with Mike Griffin.
Dennis Sarfate, on the disabled list with a strained oblique since April 15, has not yet thrown since the injury. It doesn’t look too serious at this point.
Griffin feels good about Troy Patton’s outlook for this season. He said this about Patton:
“I am seeing a much better, confident and relaxed Troy Patton this year. A fastball that has some late sink to it, a slider that has better tilt and the change that was good last year is still there. So far with Troy I’m seeing a better Troy than last year.
“He just got tired toward the end with us. I’m seeing a fresher pitcher and better stuff this year.”
Patton allowed two runs and five hits in six innings and got the win last night vs. Gwinnett.