By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
5:51 PM PDT, July 17, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS — Brad Bergesen received the phone call right as he began dozing off around 12:30 Tuesday morning. That's when Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson phoned to tell the right-hander to come pick up his bag for an early-morning flight to Minnesota.
The Orioles purchased the contract of the 26-year-old Bergesen before Tuesday's game to provide support to a taxed bullpen that has thrown 22 2/3 innings over the four games since the All-Star break.
The move gave the bullpen a right-handed arm that could serve in a long relief role behind left-handed starter Zach Britton on Tuesday night. The Orioles also considered purchasing the contracts of Norfolk relievers Oscar Villarreal and Zach Phillips, but both pitched Monday night.
"Obviously with any pitcher, but especially a young pitcher starting the season, you want to be able to be covered as much say you can," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You want to have a long guy that's able to go long, and of the possibilities we had there, Bergy was the best option."
To make room for Bergesen, the Orioles optioned right-handed reliever Miguel Socolovich, who threw 2 1/3 innings of relief in the team's 19-7 loss to the Twins on Monday, back to Norfolk. In order to make 40-man roster space for Bergesen, the club transferred first baseman-designated hitter Nick Johnson (right wrist) to the 60-day disabled list. Johnson tried unsuccessfully to take batting practice Monday.
The club also officially placed second baseman Robert Andino on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder injury, clearing a spot for Britton.
At Norfolk, Bergesen was 4-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 games (10 starts). Over 80 1/3 innings, he allowed 90 hits, 42 runs, 36 earned runs with 41 strikeouts and 23 walks. He had mostly worked out of the bullpen recently, but was scheduled to start Tuesday.
Over his last 10 outings, all relief appearances, Bergesen has a 2.35 ERA. He threw two scoreless innings in his last appearance Saturday.
"It was so foreign to me," Bergesen said of pitching in relief. "Last year was the first time I had ever done it, so now I feel like I have a little more experience there. I have a little better feel for the daily routine of it."
How long Bergesen will be with the Orioles is unclear. The team still needs to make a move to add Wednesday's starter, Tommy Hunter.
Hunter hopes to 'step up'
Hunter said he sees Wednesday's start against the Twins as an opportunity to show he belongs back in the majors. Hunter was scheduled to start at Norfolk on Wednesday, so he was an easy candidate for the spot start after Jason Hammel (knee surgery) had to go on the disabled list.
"As far as it seems it's a spot start," Hunter said. "Pitch good and stay again, right? That's pretty much how is goes with anybody, right? Pitch well and you stay. Not only is it important to me, it's important to this team. We need somebody. Somebody's got to step up and they've asked me to."
Hunter was 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts at Norfolk and is coming off a 7 1/3-inning outing on Friday, allowing seven hits and four runs with seven strikeouts and one walk against Lehigh Valley.
"I've been doing some flat work," Hunter said. "Trying to get a consistency with my delivery. That's been apparently the thing. I was happy with my last outing, had an inning that just seemed to get away."
Orioles in the lottery
The Orioles are one of 13 major league teams in Wednesday's first competitive balance lottery, an initiative of the new collective bargaining agreement aimed at helping small-market and low-revenue teams. The other eligible teams are the Diamondbacks, Indians, Royals, A's, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers and Cardinals.
The lottery will give a total of 12 additional draft picks to those teams next June — six following the first round and the free-agent compensation picks and another six after the second round. The odds of being awarded those picks are based on last year's winning percentage, and the Orioles have the fourth worst winning percentage, trailing the Twins, Mariners and Astros.
The Orioles will send a representative to the lottery, which is similar to the NBA draft lottery with number of balls in a popper. But even Showalter said he's still slightly confused by the process.
"If you do odds, I think we've got 'X' number of balls in the popper, which [still] means you could come out with none," Showalter said. "I'm trying to figure out what the criteria is to be one of these 12 or 13 teams. ... I think I've got an idea about it now. But I'd love to know how they came to all this."
The 10 smallest-market teams and the 10 lowest-revenue teams are placed in the lottery, with some overlap leading to the final number of 13.
Around the horn
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts saw a hip specialist in Nashville and has returned to Sarasota, Fla., where he is still deciding what steps to take with his right hip labral tear. "It's a pretty serious decision for him," Showalter said. "One for sure takes him out of this season with surgery and the other makes a return a possibility, but you don't know what return you are going to get. … Right-handed reliever Stu Pomeranz (oblique muscle tear) likely won't be able to come off the 60-day DL when he becomes eiligible July 25, Showalter said. ... Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Matt Bischoff, promoted from high Class-A Frederick earlier in the day, became the Tides' franchise-record 23rd starting pitcher this season.
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