04/30/10 8:26 PM ET
Bergesen being brought back to face Boston
Right-hander hopes early-season struggles are behind him
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Manager Dave Trembley said on Friday that he spoke with Bergesen prior to meeting with the media and that the 24-year-old seemed more relaxed and a lot more "sure of himself."
"I would expect you will see Brad Bergesen return to the form we're all accustomed to seeing when he pitches [on Saturday]," Trembley said. "He's on regular rest to come back and pitch on the fifth day. We feel like he went down there and did the things we asked him to do."
A pleasant surprise last season, Bergesen went 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA in his first three starts this year, never pitching deeper than the fifth inning. Following his start on April 19, the Orioles sent him to Norfolk to get back on track, namely to regain confidence behind his pitches.
With a pair of off-days bracketing last weekend's Boston series, Baltimore didn't need a fifth starter until Saturday.
"Honestly, I don't think we really wanted to send him down to begin with," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "But we didn't need a starter for two weeks, and it just fit at that time."
On Sunday in Norfolk, Bergesen allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings in the Tides' 7-2 win, tossing 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes. Most important, especially for a finesse pitcher such as Bergesen, is the fact that 14 of his outs were grounders, against only two fly balls.
In a phone interview with MLB.com following the start, Bergesen acknowledged that his early struggles were 90 percent mental.
"I was playing catchup the entire spring [from a strained right shoulder capsule in the offseason], just trying to get as many reps as I could," Bergesen said. "And I'm such a 'feel' pitcher that I kept pressing and pressing, trying to force the issue and not trying to remember how I did it before. I needed to slow the game down."
Bergesen has been working closely with Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin, throwing bullpen sessions and just talking about some of the problems he had in his first three starts in the big leagues.
"He was on a fast track. He didn't really have a chance to regroup, because he had to play catchup," Kranitz said. "So I think [going to Triple-A] was good for him."
But is one start enough to deem Bergesen ready? The Orioles think so.
"Sometimes they just need to go down and regroup and take an exhale and really think things through a little more," Kranitz said. "He threw the ball well enough [in Triple-A] to tell us that he can get the opportunity."
In two career starts against the Red Sox, Bergesen is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA. He will be opposed by Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will be making his first start of the season since landing on the disabled list April 3.
"[Bergesen] got put in a terrible situation, and it spun out of control on him," Trembley said of the injury, which Bergesen sustained while filming a commercial in December. "But I love him, he's a great guy. He's going to pitch and be successful for a long time."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.