Patton pitching today, Berken still rehabbing

SARASOTA, Fla. - Left-hander Troy Patton is scheduled to pitch today for the first time since Thursday, when he recorded the last three outs to pick up the save against the Braves.

I suggested that the Orioles were holding him back for the next time they needed another lead protected in the ninth, but he wasn't buying it.

Actually, Patton was supposed to take one day off and throw again, but he requested an extra day because he was "a little bit sore still."

"Ideally, I would have pitched the next day, but because of the scheduling, so many guys had to pitch and it didn't work out that way. I moved back a couple more days," he said.

"I was still a little sore from that one day when I warmed up in the sixth and then sat for a while. I threw a little bit too much trying to get loose and I just didn't feel like it would have been right to pitch when I was a little bit too sore. It wasn't anything worth reporting."

Sorry.

Patton hasn't allowed a run in three innings this spring. He's trying to make the club as a multi-purpose reliever, capable of eating up innings if a starter leaves early or getting a few key outs in a set-up role. He's out of options, so the Orioles can't send him down without exposing him to waivers.

Left-hander Zach Phillips, who has an option remaining, is viewed in a similar manner. And it's possible that a healthy Tsuyoshi Wada could be moved to the bullpen.

"Every time I don't give up a run, I feel good about it," Patton said. "I've been throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead of a lot of guys, so that's huge in this division, as you guys know - getting ahead of these really good hitters so they don't bury you. So yes, I feel like I've been doing very good so far, and hopefully I can keep it going today."

Meanwhile, Jason Berken experienced a setback over the weekend while trying to return from a hamstring injury, but he played catch yesterday and said it was "the best it's felt since I hurt it."

"Three days ago, I was playing catch and it kind of caught again," he said. "The setback wasn't anything really significant. Yesterday, I felt really good playing catch. I'll play catch again today and decide where we go from here, assuming everything goes well. I was very encouraged by yesterday. I'm definitely making good progress.

"It was frustrating because I felt like I was getting close. They were talking about me getting on a half mound, which gets you excited, and you prepare yourself for that, and then you have a setback. But it isn't like I wasn't making progress. Setback might not even be the right word to use. I feel like I'm back to where I was before and probably even better. Yes, it's frustrating, but then again, I've made good progress and I continue to do that. It's just a matter of getting it right."

Berken still hasn't pitched in a game this spring.

"The big thing for me is my arm has stayed in shape," he said. "I've been able to play catch almost the whole time, so I do feel like when it comes down to my hamstring getting better, I won't be far behind in terms of my arm. Once this hamstring passes, I'll be able to pick things up right away and hopefully get in games quick and go out there and pitch and do whatever I can."

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