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Bergesen enjoying a happy and healthy offseason

Orioles young starter Brad Bergesen certainly feels better now about an upcoming baseball season than he did at this time last year.

That's because he's not dealing with pain in shoulder, which cropped up last December after he did too much, too soon while filming a commercial. He's also not dealing with any lingering soreness in his left leg, which started when he was drilled by a Billy Butler comebacker, an injury that ended his promising 2009 season.

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"Last offseason was such a mental strain from me, coming off the leg injury," Bergesen said today in a phone interview. "I wasn't walking on that until October. And then the arm injury came, obviously. Just to be completely healthy this season and to go about the normal routine is a great feeling."

Bergesen said that he started throwing about two weeks ago, and he's played catch about six or seven times. He's hoping to throw his first bullpen in about two weeks.

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The 25-year-old had a rollercoaster 2010 season, going 8-12 with a 4.98 ERA in 30 outings (28 starts). He was optioned to Triple-A in late April after pitching to a 12.19 ERA and losing his first three starts. He returned to the majors May 1 and went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his next three starts, but then he compiled a 7.40 ERA over his next six games, and was again jettisoned to Norfolk.

He was recalled to the majors for good on June 26, and he went 5-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break. Bergesen went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five August starts and over his last 12 outings, he pitched to a 2.85 ERA and allowed three earned runs or fewer 10 times.

"Just the way I finished the year, it gave me much needed confidence going into the offseason," Bergesen said. "I was down and I found a way to get back up and compete in the A.L. East. That was good progress. I'm just trying to carry that into this year and continue to work on the things that helped me be successful."

Bergesen was very close to pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who is now in Milwaukee. However, he said that he is looking forward to working with new pitching coach Mark Connor, who has called the Orioles' pitchers over the last month to introduce himself.

"I don't know exactly what type of pitching philosophy he has," Bergesen said. "I talked to Kevin Millwood about him. He was saying he's an old school type of guy. I look at myself that way. I'm just looking forward to getting a chance to work with him."

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