Bergesen Might Not Pitch Again This Season

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

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Rookie, Still Not Throwing Off A Mound, Would Be 'Crushed'

August 29, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

It's starting to appear that Brad Bergesen's promising rookie season will come to a premature end. Bergesen, who hasn't pitched since taking a line drive off his left shin July 30, still hasn't progressed to throwing off a mound, and it now looks doubtful he'll be able to cover enough ground to return to the Orioles' rotation before late next month.

That will force the Orioles to decide whether it's worth it to have Bergesen (7-5, 3.43 ERA) come back to make just one or two starts.

"The throwing program got delayed, and the calendar is starting to work against us right now," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.

Bergesen, whose left shin was bruised when he was hit with a line drive from the Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler, is throwing off flat ground at the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. He said in a phone interview this week that he was still feeling some discomfort but that his condition had improved. He also said he would be "crushed" if he didn't pitch again this season.

However, the Orioles are apparently already looking at alternatives if he's unable to come back. The plan had been for Bergesen to join the club in September and for the Orioles to go with a six-man rotation to ease the burden on their young pitchers who are approaching professional-career highs in innings. But that idea was contingent on Bergesen's being healthy.

"If Bergesen doesn't figure to pitch, then we have to go to another plan," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Because I could tell you [Brian] Matusz, [Chris] Tillma n, [David] Hernandez, those guys aren't throwing 115 pitches in September. They're not going into the eighth inning. It's not going to happen. We're going to protect those guys. That's why we'll get some other guys in the bullpen. "

Going the opposite way

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters long ago stopped caring where his home runs land, so he predictably offered little more than a shrug when asked about all five of his homers this year going to the opposite field.

"It's always nice to drive the ball the other way, but I think you take a homer whichever way. They all count," said Wieters, who hit a solo shot Thursday off the Cleveland Indians' Jess Todd. "It's just something that I've had some success hitting fastballs over the plate for homers the other way. I'm sure they'll adjust and I'll have to pull a couple. But any way they come, I'm fine."

Wieters' bat speed has been a popular discussion among scouts, who have pointed out the trouble he has had catching up to some of the harder throwers in the league. Trembley said he thinks Wieters' hitting to the opposite field is more a function of the way he's being pitched to rather than any issues with his bat speed.

"The ones that I've looked at, every one that he's hit has been on the outer part of the plate the other way," Trembley said. "Wieters is going to hit. He's going to learn how to hit, and he's going to learn to hit with power. He's going to be a good player for a long time. He's learning the strike zone. ... He'll hit 50 points higher next year, I bet."

Jones sits again

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was not in the lineup again Friday night, missing his fifth straight game because of a sore back. The All-Star took a couple of swings and did some light running, but the club decided to hold him out at least one more day.

"I thought he was going to be able to play today, but he got scratched," Trembley said. "I asked [head athletic trainer] Richie Bancells if he would be in the lineup [Friday], and he said "very good likelihood." ... I guess it's better to be cautious at this particular time than to do something else. That will just give him another day. Let's hope we can get him out there [tonight], put him in the three spot and get him going."

Standing tall

Before he left Camden Yards late Thursday night, Trembley had a visitor to his office. It was closer Jim Johnson, who had given up a two-out, two-run, ninth-inning homer to Andy Marte that cost the Orioles the game. It was Johnson's first blown save in five chances since taking over the closer's role from the traded George Sherrill.

"He basically said the next time there's a shot to save it, he wants to be the guy out there," Trembley said. "It just happens. To me, he's the closer on the team."

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