Jason Berken was close to being the Orioles All Star last season. He was also the most effective pitcher for the first half of the season. So going into 2011, it would seem that some of the O’s success will depend on his effectiveness.

A few weeks into the spring, that effectiveness seems a bit shaky. Berken suffered a torn labrum in the middle of the 2010 campaign. He chose to rehab the injury as opposed to surgery, and as a result, he came into spring training having not thrown a ball in seven months and it is has shown. He is currently sporting a 5.00 ERA in 9 innings of work. Those numbers aren’t going to work in the regular season. No one is really talking about what looks wrong with him. Rather, it seems that they are giving him a free pass since he is coming off of the injury.

Otherwise, you’d say Jason Berken looks great. The most notable difference is that he came in to camp in shape In a post written by Roch Kubatko, Berken talks about the motivation to be healthier,

“”I think it hit home for me last year. I remember Nick (Markakis) talking about part of our job description is to be in good shape. I feel like that’s important, and for me to be in good shape is only going to help me. It was tough for me because I had a pretty bad diet last year. I’m one of those guys who can put on weight real fast, so I have to watch it.”

So it seems if Berken can find his pitching arm, his health will allow him to be more durable and go deeper into both games and the season as a whole.
My biggest concern is that the O’s don’t rush him and he ends up not being as effective in the regular season. It would seem to be a safer move to send him to AAA Norfolk for April and bring him back up in May. Your thoughts?