By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
1:17 PM EDT, March 23, 2012
Orioles right-hander Jason Berken, who has been nursing a nagging hamstring injury all spring, appears close to pitching in his first Grapefruit League game.
Berken threw one inning in a minor league game against the Red Sox’s Triple-A team Thursday at Twin Lakes Park, his first live game action this spring, and said he thinks his injury woes are behind him.
“Based on how I felt yesterday, I really feel like I’m further ahead than I expected and things have been really good,” Berken said. “I really think the best way to say it is I didn’t think about it. I think that’s kind of a good gauge in terms of how I felt. I wasn’t worried about it and I was pitching like there wasn’t an issue.”
Berken was clocked in the 92-to-94 range and he mixed his pitches well, incorporating his change-up and curveball into his arsenal.
The next step would be pitching in a Grapefruit League game, which could occur over the next few days.
"He came in today with a great look," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I can tell you how frustrated he's been with everything. I told him, 'Your wife must have been happy to see the real Jason show up last night,' and he said, 'Yeah.' A little more bounce in his step. [It] looks like we're in the process of getting him back completely."
With two weeks left until Opening Day, it's unlikely Berken would still be able to earn a roster spot. He still has options, so a trip to Triple-A to start the season might make the most sense.
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