Berry defends Rice program and its use of pitchers

Earlier today, I wrote about pitcher Ryan Berry and his comeback from right shoulder tendinitis that is continuing now with the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds.

Berry had some shoulder issues in college and was limited to 81 2/3 innings in 2009 as a junior when he was one of the top pitchers in college baseball, going 7-2 for Rice with an ERA of 2.42. That June the Orioles selected him in round nine of the draft.

“I had some tendinitis and actually my junior year missed about six weeks with a strained rotator cuff,” Berry said. “But I came back and finished that year strong and last year pitched 120 innings (in the minors), so I don’t know if there is any lingering effects from then. I’m pretty sure there is not.”

The Rice program has developed a bit of a reputation for heavy workloads for some pitchers that some feel have led to injuries. Berry feels the program gets a bit of a bad rap.

“Talking to the other players that were drafted, even here (this year) like (Arizona’s) Kyle Simon threw 130 innings this season,” Berry said. “It wasn’t that we were overworked at Rice, but some high profile guys like six years ago, (Jeff) Niemann, (Phil) Humber and (Wade) Townsend, those high profile guys had some injuries. But Humber and Niemann are in the big leagues now.

“Would I say we were overworked or do they have a program that doesn’t keep us healthy? No. It was just a bit of an unfortunate circumstance with those guys and now the reputation is ‘don’t draft Rice pitchers.’

“But there are plenty of guys in the minor leagues the past seven years that have no problems. They gave me plenty of opportunities to showcase my skills in front of scouts.”

At Rice, he was one of college baseball’s top freshman pitchers in 2007, going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA over 122 2/3 innings, and then pitched 104 innings in 2008 with a record of 8-5 and 3.63 ERA.

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