Akron Aeros left-handed pitcher Eric Berger is looking for a bounce back season. Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 8th round of the 2008 draft, Berger went 5-6 with a 4.90 ERA in 23 starts between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in 2010. After spending time in the Arizona Fall League and teaching kids baseball over the offseason, the 25-year-old is ready to prove the Indians that he can help the team. And, oh yeah, he’s also sporting something new this season.
“I grew a beard in the offseason, I was just kind of roughing it a little bit because I was able to. Then I shaved it and just left the ‘stache. Enjoying the look,” Berger said of his mustache which has a Rollie Fingers-esce curl to it. “The guys are too. I’m just rolling with it, enjoying it.”
After having rough months of April and May in 2010, in which Berger went 1-4 with a 7.73 ERA in seven starts, from June on, things got better and Berger’s ERA was a respectable 3.92 in 16 starts.
After the season ended, Berger pitched in the Arizona Fall League –from the bullpen. An experience he really learned a lot from.
“It was great,” Berger said on pitching in the AFL. “I went to U of A too, so I’m familiar with Arizona and spring training’s out there. To be just teamed up with other guys in other organizations and playing around Arizona was really great. The competition and the players were really, really good.”
After being drafted from the University of Arizona, Berger adjusted well to the professional hitters sporting a 2-0 record in eight starts with a 2.12 ERA with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Low-A). In 34 innings, he struck out 41 batters while walking just nine.
“Going from the Pack 10 and starting out at Mahoning Valley was a good transformation. It was nice to get away from metal bats and go to wood. I think a lot of pitchers like that. And to just work up the ranks, there’s things you have to refine at every level. It was a good process. Obviously, the players get better at every level, so you have to as well. You have to adjust.”
While most players like to spend their offseason just vacationing, Berger spent his giving back and doing something he really enjoys –teaching pitching lessons. It’s something he has been doing in the offseason since college.
“When I shut my arm down, I like to work with kids because at least I’m speaking about mechanics, to keep it somewhat fresh.”
Just 25-years old, and with a long career still ahead of him, is coaching or teaching something Berger would aspire to do once it’s over?
“I don’t know how good of a coach I’d be, to be honest with you,” Berger said, laughing. “I think I could teach pitching mechanics. It’s a lot different than knowing a situation in a game. I think there are guys that are better than me at coaching. I look at it as helping kids out, giving back to the younger generation and passing along what I’ve learned so the next generation can keep baseball strong and America’s Past Time.”
This season with the Akron Aeros, Berger is 1-0 in four appearances (one start) with a 3.12 ERA. The lefty has struck out 11 while allowing just four hits over 8.2 innings. Primarily used as a starter last season, Berger is enjoying his new role out of the ‘pen.
“I don’t,” Berger said on if he had a preference between starting or relieving. “Starting is cool because you know when you’re starting, you know when you’re pitching. But I like relieving too because I get more appearances’. It sucks to sit out for four days, but as a reliever, you get the chance to play everyday. So that is the one thing I like about that as well.”
“I just want to continue pitching well,” Berger said on his goals for this season. “Whether it’s as a reliever or a starter. And show Cleveland that I want to make a push for the big leagues in this upcoming year, or next year.”
*Photo credit: clevescene
Former first-rounder Brandon Wood never lived up to the hype for the Angels, but received fresh start when the Pirates claimed him off waivers on Friday.
Wood may have flied to right in his first at-bat as a Bucco, but came through with a two-run double in the 4th, for the go-ahead run in the 4-2 win agasint the Washington Nationals on Monday night at PNC Park.
The double came after a short rain delay. With Neil Walker on Third base, and Steve Pearce was on first when Wood doubled to right center field. Jose Tabata scored on an error by right fielder Jayson Werth before the delay. Chris Snyder singled for the fourth run of the inning, and give the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
Left-hander Paul Maholm started for the Pirates and after allowing two runs to score on three hits in the 1st, he settled in and was solid. He allowed just one more hit –in the third inning– and put up zeros the rest of his outing.
Maholm was charged with two runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts over seven innings (99 pitches). He picked up his first win on the season.
Righty John Lannan ran into trouble after the rain delay, giving up the four runs in the 4th to the Bucs. He allowed four runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 5.2 innings.
With the win, the Pirates took the series from the Nats and improved to 10-12 on the season.
The Pirates will open up a three game series against the 2010 World Series Champs, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants will send Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong to the mound against the Bucs.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Pirates 2010 first-round pick (2nd overall), will make his professional debut for the Low-A West Virginia Power on Wednesday.
Taillon will face the only guy that was picked ahead of him, Bryce Harper, as the Hagerstown Suns are in WV for a five game series (that kicked off on Monday).
Taillon has been throwing in extended spring training.
The 19-year-old is ranked the Pirates No. 1 prospect and 18th overall in MLB.com’s Top 50 prospects.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (9-12) will face the Washington Nationals (10-10) at 7:05 PM at PNC Park for the makeup game that was postponed on Friday.
Left-hander Paul Maholm (0-3, 4.30 ERA) will start for the Bucs against John Lannan (2-1, 3.43 ERA).
Maholm allowed six runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings against the Florida Marlins during his last start. Lannan allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings with two walks, three strikeouts against the Cardinals.
News and Notes:
- Andrew McCutchen’s final out at the plate on Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Nationals is becoming somewhat of a controversy. If you didn’t see what happened, McCutchen, who was on third base with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, was called out at home plate when he tried to tag up and score. Right fielder Jayson Werth made a perfect throw to get McCutchen at the plate.
Manager Clint Hurdle defended McCutchen’s decision to try to score and recently so did third base coach Nick Lyeva. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, has more on the story here.
- Infielder Brandon Wood will be making his Pirates debut today, starting at third base. Wood was recently claimed off waiver from the Angels.
Andrew McCutchen CF, Jose Tabata LF, Matt Diaz RF, Neil Walker 2B, Steve Pearce 1B, Brandon Wood 3B, Chris Snyder C, Ronny Cedeno SS, Paul Maholm LHP
Danny Espinosa 2B, Ian Desmond SS, Jayson Werth RF, Andy LaRoche 1B, Michael Morse LF, Wil Ramos C, Jerry Hairston CF, Brian Bixler 3B, John Lannan LHP
Left-hander Scott Olsen is continuing to build up his arm strength, but according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, he is still a ways away from joining the club.
Olsen has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that has kept him in Bradenton, Fla., for extended spring training. He has been throwing bullpen sessiona and has appeared in one extended spring training game.
General Manager Neal Huntington told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “Good days and other days where, it’s not pain, but it’s just not coming out the way he wants it to. So we take a step back and let him continue to rebuild arm strength. The thing that we sometimes lose is that he was coming off of an [arm] injury to finish the season last year and probably would have been behind in Spring Training as it was. The hamstring injury ultimately set him back even further.”
*Photo credit: Bradenton
Fresh off a complete game win against the Brewers, the Washington Nationals rallied off right-hander Kevin Correia for a four run 3rd to beat the Bucs, 6-3 at PNC Park on Easter Sunday.
Andrew McCutchen leadoff the 1st with a double (his forth of the season) off the right field wall. McCutchen advanced to third on a ground out by Jose Tabata and scored on a RBI single by Neil Walker to left to take a 1-0 lead.
Correia threw a 1-2-3 1st inning. After allowing back-to-back singles in the 2nd, with one out he escaped out of the jam by getting two ground outs.
Unfortunately for Correia, he was unable to escape the 3rd inning cleanly. Back-to-back singles by Jason Marquis and Danny Espinosa with a six pitch walk to Rick Ankiel loaded the bases with no outs.
Jayson Werth grounded to Pedro Alvarez at third base, who threw home to get the force out. Adam LaRoche grounded to first base, scoring Espinosa and trying the game at 1.
It didn’t stay tied for long, as Michael Morse took a fastball into the left field seats for a three-run homer, giving the Nats a 4-1 lead.
Correia told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, It was just one of those that got away at the wrong time. I was trying to throw a fastball in and it didn’t move like I wanted it to. That guy is dangerous, and I know that. You can’t miss over the plate. It just wasn’t what I was expecting out of the pitch.”
Correia allowed another hit before getting Jerry Hariston (the eighth man to come to the plate) to ground out and end the inning.
Garrett Jones drew a leadoff walk and Pedro Alvarez doubled in the 4th. Chris Snyder hit a sac fly and Ronny Cedeno singled. The two runs brought the Bucs within one run.
Former Bucco Adam LaRoche homered off Coreia in 5th to give the Nationals a 5-3 advantage.
Correia was charged with five runs on 11 hits with one walk and two strikeouts over 4.2 innings (84 pitches).
The score remained the same until the 8th when the Nationals tacked on another run, a RBI double by Laynce Nix.
McCutchen told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “We felt like we were in the game the whole time today. We just weren’t able to get those few extra runs.”
The Pirates drop to 9-12 on the season. They will face the Nationals on Monday for the rubber match of the series.
The Washington Nationals (9-10) will face the Pittsburgh Pirates (9-11) at PNC Park today at 1:35 PM ET. Right-hander Jason Marquis will start for the Nats against righty Kevin Correia.
Marquis picked up his first win of the season against the Brewers during his last start. He allowed two runs on nine hits over seven innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
Correia is coming off of four-hit complete game against the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed two runs with two walks and four strikeouts.
News and Notes:
- Veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez reportedly companied after his start yesterday that the Pirates did not notify him in enough time to warm up –hence why he gave up five runs in the first inning. The game was scheduled to start at 7:05 PM but didn’t start until 8:16 because of a rain delay.
Hernandez told Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette, “The other pitchers were there already. How? I think they knew before.”
He then went on to say: “It’s not normal. They’ve got to let us know about the time.”
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reported that the press box and stadium was informed of the 8:15 start time 30 minutes prior.
- Right-hander Evan Meek has thrown six scoreless innings of relief. In fact, the Pirate bullpen as a whole has been dominant. Root Sports reported that the Bucs bullpen has a 0.90 ERA in the last 20 innings.
Andrew McCutchen CF, Jose Tabata LF, Lyle Overbay 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Garret Jones RF, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Chris Snyder C, Ronny Cedeno SS, Kevin Correia RHP
Danny Espinosa 2B, Rick Ankiel CF, Jayson Werth RF, Adam LaRoche 1B, Michael Morse LF, Jerry Hairston 3B, Ivan Rodriguez C, Alex Cora SS, Jason Marquis RHP
The Pittsburgh Pirates rallied off of veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez for a five run first inning in the 7-2 victory at PNC Park on Saturday.
Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata started the inning off with back-to-back hits, Tabata’s a double, to quickly put two runners on, with no outs. Lyle Overbay hit a RBI single and Garrett Jones hit a RBI double off the right field wall, his first double of the season as well as his first hit at PNC Park this year. Ryan Doumit hit a RBI single, giving the Bucs a 3-0 lead. Pedro Alvarez grounded out to second base, scoring Garrett Jones. Ronny Cedeno singled to tack on the fifth run of the inning before Pitcher Jeff Karstens struck out to end the frame.
Nine men came to the plate and five runs scored on six hits off Hernandez in the 1st.
The Nationals cut the lead 5-1, with a leadoff double by former Bucco Adam LaRoche and a RBI single by Michael Morse in the 2nd inning.
McCutchen drew a six pitch walk in the bottom of the 2nd inning. He swiped second base and advanced to third on the error throw. Tabata hit a sac fly up against the right field wall to give the Bucs a 6-1 lead.
McCutchen told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, A lot of times, when I hit third, I just didn’t have any opportunity (to steal). Being the leadoff guy, you’ll have little more of an opportunity to steal bases in certain situations. It helps out.”
Jayson Werth hit a solo-home run in the 4th inning off Jeff Karstens (the second home run he has given up this season).
McCutchen and Tabata drew back-to-back walks in the 6th inning, and Overbay hit an RBI single to tack on another run for the Bucs.
Hernandez, who was making his 450th consecutive start since debuting with the Florida Marlins in 1996, was charged with seven runs (four earned) over six innings with four walks and two strikeouts.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens was solid in his second spot start in place of Ross Ohlendorf (right shoulder posterior strain). Over six-plus innings, Karstens allowed just two runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts (85 pitches). He picked up his second win on the season.
Karstens was pulled after giving up back-to-back hits in the 7th inning. Reliever Chris Resop entered the game with runners on the corners with no outs. The righty struck out the first two batters and got pinch hitter Matt Stairs to line out to third to end the inning, unscathed.
With the 7-2 win, the Pirates picked up their second home victory at PNC Park this season. They were 1-5 during the previous homestand.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will face the Washington Nationals at 7:05 PM ET.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will start for the Bucs against Livan Hernandez (2-1, 2.88 ERA).
Karstens spot started for Ross Ohlendorf (right shoulder posterior strain) on Sunday against the Reds. He allowed five runs on eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts over 4.1 innings. It will be his second start (five appearance) this season.
Hernandez is coming off a great start against the Brewers. He allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
News and Notes:
- Infielder Brandon Wood arrived in Pittsburgh in the early am on Saturday. He took a red eye from California to get to PNC Park before the game today. Although he’s not in the starting lineup today, he is excited for his opportunity.
Wood told Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette, “The Angels had to make a move, I understand that. Now, for me, this is an unbelievable opportunity. I’m fortunate for my time and my opportunity with the Angels, I am. But now, this is an all new opportunity and, really, a chance to redeem myself.”
“I talked to Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle and I can tell this is an organization that wants me and is working toward the right direction. They want to succeed and they want to add me to it.”
“When it comes to hitting, Clint is one of the best to work with. He has a great reputation and he’s developed a lot of young guys and made a lot of players better. Just look at what he did with the young players in Colorado. He’s a guy I want to work with and I want to have him involved with helping me improve. Like I said, I just can’t wait to get there and get a uniform and get to work.”
- With Wood arriving to Pittsburgh, Pedro Ciriaco was optioned to Triple-A.
Andrew McCutchen CF, Jose Tabata LF, Lyle Overbay 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Garrett Jones RF, Ryan Doumit C, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Ronny Cedeno SS, Jeff Karstens RHP
Danny Espinosa 2B, Rick Ankiel CF, Jayson Werth RF, Adam LaRoche 1B, Wilson Ramos C, Michael Morse LF, Ian Desmond (SS), Jerry Hairston 3B, Livan Hernandez RHP
The Friday night game against the Washington Nationals, which was rained out, has been rescheduled for Monday at 7:05 PM ET.
Fans with tickets from the Friday game can use those tickets Monday or exchange them for any remaining Sunday through Thursday home game during the season. This excludes the June 5 game against the Philadelphia Phillies and June 26 against the Boston Red Sox.