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Orioles notebook, 8/23

August 23, 2011

Berken receives good news on injured elbow

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Jason Berken got some good news following an MRA on his right elbow on Tuesday in Baltimore.

Berken, who is on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his elbow, had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2005 season at Clemson. The pain began in Berken’s forearm and moved up to the elbow.An MRA — a magnetic resonance angiogram — is similar to an MRI, with the addition of contrast dye being injected into the elbow for a better picture.

“The good news is, it’s all good news basically, but the surgery site of the Tommy John looks good,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “He’s got some inflammation in there right now that they’re thinking about maybe [a cortisone shot] until when Dr. [John] Wilckens gets there, to try to calm down the inflammation.”

The results of the MRA were the same as what Wilckens saw this weekend when he examined Bergen’s elbow in Anaheim.

“The structure and everything looks fine,” Showalter said. “There’s just some inflammation we’ve got to get out of there.”

O’s clear roster spot by designating Pie

MINNEAPOLIS — Once one of the top prospects in baseball, Felix Pie was designated for assignment on Tuesday by the Orioles.

The move was made to make room on the Orioles’ 40-man roster for utility man Jake Fox, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk. Baltimore also recalled outfielder Matt Angle from the Tides.

“Hopefully it’s a win-win for Felix,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “We were looking for ways to get him back being the guy that we know he might be capable of being. For us, we hope he clears [waivers] and decides to go to Norfolk and get some at-bats, and gets back to doing what he’s capable of doing.

“The bad side of that is, somebody can pick him up or he can become a free agent if he wants to. But we got to the point where if he can’t get some at-bats and get back to being what he’s capable of being, it’s probably not going to work out with him.”

In his fourth season with the Orioles, Pie hit .220 with seven RBIs in 85 games this season. In 268 games over the past three years, Pie batted .259 with 14 home runs and 67 RBIs.

For two years, in 2006-07, Pie was the Cubs’ top prospect. But he never found a solid role in Chicago, and was traded to the Orioles in ’09 for two Minor League pitchers. Pie was expected to be the everyday left fielder for the O’s, but offensive inconsistencies and struggles on the bases and in left field kept him from fulfilling that role.

Pie, who had been struggling defensively, saw his playing time decrease significantly, as he started only one of the Orioles’ previous eight games. Nolan Reimold has become the club’s everyday left fielder.

“Felix has been with us close to [four] years,” Showalter said. “I got to see him pretty well last year, so you know the potential is there. But we had to create a scenario where he can get back to being that guy.”

Angle, Fox recalled from Triple-A Norfolk

MINNEAPOLIS — After optioning Blake Davis on Monday night, the Orioles recalled outfielder Matt Angle from Triple-A Norfolk.

Angle and Jake Fox were brought up to fill holes in the outfield and corner infield positions with Josh Bell and Davis having been optioned on consecutive days.

“I think it’s a better club as far as where we are as a team right now,” manager Buck Showalter said. “They kind of serve some needs that we haven’t been able to serve.”

In 107 games for Norfolk this season, Angle batted .272 with a team-high 27 stolen bases. Angle made his Major League debut with the Orioles on July 17, playing in two games and going 0-for-7 before returning to Triple-A.

Angle’s ability defensively and as a baserunner represent an upgrade over what Pie has provided this season.

“Felix is better than that, I saw him last year play as good a left field as you want him to play,” Showalter said. “Matt fits a need. He can do a lot of things. [But] he’ll go through some growing pains up here, too.”

Fox, who has played 185 Major League games over four seasons with the Cubs, A’s and Orioles, batted .274 with 12 home runs for the Tides. After beginning the season as the Orioles’ backup catcher, Fox leads the Tides with 57 RBIs in 67 games.

In 19 games with the O’s this season, Fox hit .188 with two homers and four RBIs.

“Jake went down, and he got after it down there,” Showalter said. “This is a guy that’s been in the big leagues some and he kind of re-established himself. You’d like to reward that for going down there and doing the things that he did down there. It gives us some depth in places that we haven’t had.”

O’s relievers get job done against Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — When left-hander Zach Britton was inefficient with his pitches and had to leave after five innings on Monday night, it meant the Orioles’ bullpen would need to close out the last four frames in a one-run ballgame.

Chris Jakubauskas, Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg were up to the task, retiring 12 of 14 batters faced and allowing just two hits in four scoreless innings.

Gonzalez was especially impressive, striking out all four batters he faced.

“Gonzo’s been pitching well for a while now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s attacking the zone, he’s pitching with a purpose and he’s got a good look in his eye. Hopefully, we’ll benefit from it in the next six weeks.”

After Gregg blew a 12th-inning save on Saturday, Showalter said he would put him right back in there, and he remained true to his word on Monday.

Gregg pitched a perfect ninth, needing just eight pitches to get a pair of flyouts and a groundout.

“You don’t do the things he’s done over a long period and not have some mental toughness,” Showalter said. “The mental toughness part of it is never a question with him.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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