Former Orioles starting pitcher Mike Flanagan helps former… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
Ray Miller had three different stints as the Orioles' pitching coach spread over 11 seasons and one as manager that lasted two years. But his legacy in helping develop a host of talented pitchers — five different 20-game winners and a pair of Cy Young Award winners — made Miller an obvious candidate for the team's Hall of Fame.
Five years after he last wore an Orioles uniform, that legacy was celebrated Saturday night during a pre-game ceremony at Camden Yards in which Miller was honored along with late Orioles manager Johnny Oates and Len Johnston, who held several positions in the team's minor league system for more than 30 years.
Oates, who died of brain cancer on Christmas Eve 2004 at 58, was honored posthumously and represented by his wife, Gloria, and son, Andy.
Miller said that when the Orioles called him in March at his home outside Wheeling, W.Va., to tell him he was being inducted, "I actually broke down. My wife asked me, 'What the [heck] is wrong — you never cry."
Before the ceremony, Miller thanked former Orioles manager Earl Weaver for giving him a chance to coach a team he had grown up rooting for in Suitland and credited Cal Ripken Sr. and Elrod Hendricks for teaching him The Oriole Way.
Miller said one of the biggest compliments was when he recently learned that the Minnesota Twins, whom Miller managed for two seasons, still use a similar system he wrote for that organization's minor leagues.
"When I was with Minnesota and Pittsburgh [as a pitching coach], I had to bite my tongue and not say, 'The Oriole Way,'" said Miller.
Miller, who was forced to retire after getting his aorta replaced, said he misses the game. On occasion, he will pull out a tape recorder that he used in the dugout during the 1979 World Series to record the crowd noise.
"The game I miss," he said. "The politics and dealing with the media, I don't miss so much."
Lost in the aftermath of a fourth straight win under new manager Buck Showalter on Friday night was a second straight strong outing by pitcher Brad Bergesen.
On the verge of being dropped from the starting rotation right before the managerial change was made, the 24-year-old right-hander has suddenly started looking like the pitcher he was when he went 7-5 with a 3.45 ERA in 19 starts as a rookie last season.
In each of his past two starts, both of which resulted in no-decisions, Bergesen has pitched seven innings, giving up a total of three runs and 10 hits while striking out 10 and walking just two batters.
In his four starts before that, Bergesen had been torched for 18 runs and 39 hits in a little over 22 innings.
Asked after the team's 2-1, 10-inning win over the Chicago White Sox whether he felt some pressure of losing his spot in the rotation, Bergesen said: "There's no question. I've been doing that this whole year. I've been going out and putting in my best effort, but when maybe a new guy comes in, you want to try and go out and give it that little bit of an extra effort. That's a goal of mine and just try to build off this last start."
Bergesen said the biggest difference recently is the effectiveness of his sinker and getting ahead of the hitters.
"Anytime you feel like you have confidence in your pitches, it's a great thing and you just try to roll with it," said Bergesen, adding that he also had "good depth" on his fastball against the White Sox.
As for getting that first strike, Bergesen said: "When you get that strike one, you are able to do so many different things and you get more confidence after that. That was still a big key for me."
Bell says he's pressing
Third baseman Josh Bell, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on July 31 after Miguel Tejada was traded to the San Diego Padres, conceded that his recent struggles are partly the result of putting too much pressure on himself.
"I think it's hard for me not to say that," Bell said Saturday. "It's definitely something I've been doing when you don't see results right away. I think once I can come down and kind of slow the game down and let my talent play out, it will all work out."
Since returning to Baltimore, the 23-year-old rookie has just two hits in 19 at-bats, with seven strikeouts. In 34 at-bats this season, Bell is hitting .176 (3-for-34) with 14 strikeouts and just three RBIs.
"I think it just comes with not being comfortable with your surroundings yet, coming into a new situation," said Bell, who was rated last winter as the Orioles' No. 2 minor league prospect. "When I started off in Triple-A, it was the same way. I didn't know what to expect. I was hesitant on things."
Showalter met with the rookie last week for a session that was both a pep talk and reality check.