Backing Bergesen

SARASOTA, Fla. - If you haven't seen Brad Bergesen pitch in a while, you're going to notice a change in his delivery. My older readers might be reminded of Luis Tiant.

Bergesen is reminded of the way he used to throw.

Bergesen has added a twist that momentarily leaves his back turned to the hitter. It's an element of deception that makes it a little harder for the batters to pick up the ball.

In three appearances this spring, Bergesen has allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings. All the scoring came in one inning. By my shaky math, that makes six scoreless frames.

"I feel good with what I'm doing right now," he said this morning. "I changed and made that little bit of a turn in my delivery and I think it's created a little bit of deceptiveness. And it's just something that I'll continue to work on right now through bullpens and everything. I feel real good about it right now."

Bergesen had the same twisting delivery in 2009, "and even going back a little further in the minor leagues," he said.

"For whatever reason, I started to get away from it the last few years because I felt like I needed to be more upright, but it's something I looked back into and just thought it created a lot more deception, and that's the main reason I'm doing it right now.

"One of the things Rick (Adair) talked to me about last year was he felt like hitters were picking up the ball fairly quickly in my delivery, so I think it hides the ball a little longer. My arm comes out of the slot right when my shoulder's opening and it doesn't show the ball for very long. It just comes out of a quick slot."

The Orioles have instructed their younger pitchers to concentrate on being quicker to the plate to better control the opponents' running game. Bergesen said the current delivery hasn't been a hindrance.

"It's something I've been working on in my bullpens with Rick and Bill (Castro), and I've seen myself at a 1.25 to a 1.3, sitting right there, Bergesen said. "It's something I continue to work on and put emphasis on that because it was a problem for us last year."

Bergesen has been given a starter's innings this spring, which would suggest that he's a candidate for the rotation. He could end up being used in long relief or starting at Triple-A Norfolk, since he has a minor league option remaining. A trade also is possible. Hordes of scouts are following the Orioles.

His goal remains the same. He wants to start for the Orioles.

"Obviously, last year wasn't a good year for me, but my hope is that they weren't giving up on me as a starter and I'd be given that shot again," said Bergesen who was 2-7 with a 5.70 ERA in 34 games, including 12 starts.

"They have been giving me the innings right now. They haven't told me what they view me as coming into the season, but my mindset right now is I'm planning on being a starter and I'm giving 100 percent with that."

He hasn't turned his back on that dream.

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