Orioles Notebook: O's call up Berken

BALTIMORE - After being limited to one spring training appearance by a hamstring injury, it didn't take Jason Berken long to get back to the majors.

The Baltimore Orioles called up the right-hander from Class AAA Norfolk Wednesday to take the roster spot of infielder Robert Andino, who is away from the team on paternity leave.

Berken earned the promotion by pitching well in his first three starts with the Tides, posting a 0.60 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 15 innings.

"It's great to be back, I'm just excited to see all the guys," Berken said. "I think obviously I fell behind in spring training. I feel like my spring training kind of started when the season started.

"Getting a chance to start was good. I got in a routine. So overall it was just getting more innings, getting back on the mound and getting the work in and things went well."

Berken was a logical choice when closer Jim Johnson needed to spend a second straight day in the hospital with an illness and left fielder Nolan Reimold improving.

Reimold hasn't been in the lineup since Friday because of neck spasms, but took batting practice both in the cage and on the field Wednesday. He expressed optimism that he'll be back soon.

"It's getting better, it's getting there," Reimold said. "I think I'm almost ready. ... It's just frustrating that I'm on the sidelines and in the training room, and I want to get this over with and get back on the field."

Berken provides Orioles manager Buck Showalter with something he hasn't had so far this season - a pitcher capable of filling a multi-inning role out of the bullpen.

"He's ready to give us length and some other things, if needed, especially with Jimmy being out," Showalter said.

Given Berken's success with Norfolk, the services he can provide and the struggles of Brian Matusz and Kevin Gregg, it's possible his stay will last longer.

But Berken isn't thinking about whether his latest stint with the Orioles will be temporary.

"It's the least of my concerns," he said. "The biggest thing is I am back here. I am excited to be back here and whenever I get the opportunity to pitch I am going to take full advantage of it."

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY: In honor of his 50th year working as an Orioles employee, Eldersburg resident Gordon Huggins threw out the first pitch before Wednesday's game.

Huggins has worked as a stadium usher at Camden Yards and Memorial Stadium since 1962, and listed working all six of the team's World Series, Cal Ripken's career highlights and the 1993 All-Star Game among his favorite moments on the job.

Huggins, who has been married for 48 years, welled up when reflecting on his tenure working for the team.

"I give credit to my wife because she's been alone a lot all these nights," Huggins said. "But she knows I like it, so she lets me do it."

Before being escorted to the front of the mound, Huggins was congratulated left and right by friends, family and fellow ushers, many of whom came from the 31-person cheering section he brought to the contest. He also had his two sons join him on the field, one of whom was visiting from Seattle.

Wearing a No. 50 "Huggins" Orioles jersey the team gave him, the pitch didn't go exactly as planned - he one-hopped it to Ronny Paulino after jokingly shaking off the catcher.

"I was pretty nervous and I'd been practicing for a little while," he said. "I threw it better than I did out there."WADA'S NEXT STEP: Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who has a damaged ligament in his pitching elbow, is in the process of scheduling an appointment with orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion.

Yocum performed the physical on Wada when he signed with the Orioles in December.

"Obviously there's some changes there from the original physical," Showalter said. "I think after Dr. Yocum sees him, I think they'll make a decision about what way to proceed."

Showalter said the injury is on a different side of the elbow from Wada's spring ailment. The manager relayed that Wada couldn't pinpoint when it happened either.

Showalter has chosen to remain optimistic that Wada can avoid Tommy John surgery and pitch for the Orioles soon.

"This is just my opinion," he said. "There's still hope. No one's definitively said this is what has to happen. He could rehab this thing and be back. Always the potential of surgery and if that happens, the way things are nowadays, he could be pitching for us again.

"Either way, I'm going to stay positive on it. I still think we're going to get what he's got to offer."

OTHER UPDATES: Showalter said catcher Taylor Teagarden is slated to receive a third epidural injection in his injured back because he isn't progressing well in rehab. This will be the last injection for the backstop, and if it doesn't work, Teagarden could have to try a different course of treatment.

Showalter added that left-hander Zach Britton (left shoulder) is on schedule with his throwing program and has suffered no setbacks. Britton is near the point where he can throw off a mound.