Uecker to return to the booth Friday

MILWAUKEE - OCTOBER 04:  Former major league b...
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This is great news!

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced that Bob Uecker, the voice of the team for the last 40 years who had heart surgery in April, will return to the 620WTMJ Brewers broadcast booth at Miller Park to call games starting Friday.

Uecker will call the play-by-play with Cory Provus beginning with Friday’s Brewers game with the Washington Nationals at 6:35 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

Doctors at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin repaired Uecker’s aortic aneurysm on April 30th, and he has spent most of the last three months recovering.

Uecker will give more details about his return at a press conference at 3:00 p.m. Friday before his return to the booth.

Uecker, the longtime voice of the Brewers on Newsradio 620 WTMJ, has been behind the microphone calling Major League Baseball games for more consecutive years than almost any active broadcaster. (Source: 620WTMJ)

Maybe it can provide the team with a spark.

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Berken baseball camp next month

Jason Berken
Image via Wikipedia

The 3rd annual Berken Baseball Camp is January 9 and 10, 2010.

The 2010 Berken Baseball Camp for children in grades 3 to 12 will be held Jan. 9 and 10 at the West De Pere High School field house, 665 Grant St., De Pere.

The camp will include eight hours of professional instruction from Berken and several other professional baseball players, including Orioles pitcher Rich Hill, as well as Orioles minor-league catching coordinator Don Werner, a former major-league player.

Dominic Viola, a scout for the Orioles, will be a special speaker at the camp.

The camp is designed to provide complete instruction on all facets of baseball.

Campers will be divided into two sessions each day: 8 a.m. to noon for those in grades 3 to 7, with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.; and 1 to 5 p.m. for those in grades 8 to 12, with lunch served from 5 to 5:30 p.m.

Camp cost is $150 per person. Family specials also are available.

Camp registration includes the instruction, batting-cage use, a camp T-shirt, a Reebok backpack, a signed Jason Berken picture, the two meals and a chance to win various baseball memorabilia.

To register or for information, call (410) 707-9825, send e-mail to berkenbaseball@ gmail.com or go to www.berkenbaseball.com. (Source: Berken baseball camp Jan. 9 and 10 – GBPG)

This year Berken brings some Major League experience, having been called up by the Orioles this past May.

For the first time in the three years he’s put on the camp for area athletes — it will be held Jan 9-10 at the West De Pere High School Fieldhouse — the pitcher will conduct it as a major league player. The “hopeful” part no longer needs to be applied.”It’s a chance for me to give back to the community that supported me so much throughout this past year,” said Berken, who went 6-12 with a 6.54 earned-run average after being called up by the Baltimore Orioles in late May.

“I think it’s the best camp yet,” said Berken, who also will be in town that week as a guest speaker at the fourth annual Green Bay Bullfrogs Hot Stove event on Jan. 7. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids to come and get a chance to interact with guys who are in the big leagues or guys who are very close to the big leagues.

“You are going to learn the game from multiple guys at the professional level, and I don’t think you have that opportunity anywhere else in the area.”

Like last year, there will be pitching, outfield, infield, catching and hitting stations run by a professional player. In all, there will be three pitchers, two catchers, two infielders and four hitting instructors along with several area college coaches and players helping.

“For the older kids, it’s a good opportunity for them to get exposure,” Berken said. “We are going to have college coaches there, an Orioles scout there. With myself and other guys who have gone to Division I programs, it’s kind of an opportunity for them to ask these guys about camps or certain colleges.

“If one of us sees a guy that we think is a legitimate player, I know that they are going to go out of their way to help them out.” (Source: This year, Berken brings major league credentials home – GBPG)

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Rough Outing for Berken

It was a rough outing for Jason Berken in Oakland.

image via Wikipedia

image via Wikipedia

A night after they knocked Jeremy Guthrie out of the game in the first inning, scoring six times against the Orioles ace, the A’s scored one run in the first inning, four in the third and four more in the fourth to send rookie right-hander Berken to an early shower. All seven hits Berken surrendered were doubles as he tied Mike Mussina’s record for the most two-base hits allowed by an Orioles pitcher, set July 16, 1996, against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jason Giambi broke the game open with a three-run double in the third inning, and Orlando Cabrera gave the A’s a 7-0 lead with a two-run double in the fourth. Making his first road start, Berken was finally removed in favor of David Hernandez after Adam Kennedy‘s RBI double. With the nine earned runs, the most allowed by an Orioles starter since Steve Trachsel was touched for nine by the Tampa Bay Rays on May 24, 2008, Berken’s ERA jumped from 2.25 to 7.04.

“I really didn’t think he established any of his three pitches,” Trembley said. “He was trying to get the ball down, and right from the first pitch of the game to Cabrera, it was up right over the plate. That seemed to be where most of his pitches were.”

Here’s what Jason had to say post-game:

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It’s the majors … rough outings happen.

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Living the dream

That would be what former West DePere standout Jason Berken is currently doing. He’s scheduled to make his third start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette had a great column earlier this week on Berken’s plan to live the dream.

So, how was your week?

image via Wikipedia

image via Wikipedia

Probably nothing like that of Jason Berken, the former West De Pere baseball standout who made his first major league start with the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

The 25-year-old right-hander was a member of the Norfolk Tide, the Class AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, last Sunday. By that evening, he was told he was being promoted to the big leagues.

By Tuesday afternoon, Berken was picking up Orioles outfielder and former teammate Nolan Reimold at the Sheraton Inner Harbor and heading to Camden Yards, where he exchanged greetings with Baltimore manager Dave Trembley and several new teammates.

By Tuesday night, he was starting against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Berken became the first area player to reach the big leagues since former Oconto Falls standout Adam Peterson pitched in three games for the Blue Jays out of the bullpen in 2004.

He also is believed to be the first area player since Oconto Falls’ Bob Wickman to start a major league game.

Yeah, that’s a candidate for the best week ever.

Thing is, it felt pretty normal for Berken, although he admitted it was a bit different heading to the mound that night.

By the time he got there, he wasn’t nervous. He didn’t feel any extra pressure to prove himself to people who might have been unfamiliar with him. Baltimore’s play-by-play announcer, Gary Thorne, even called him “Berkens” at one point.

And to think there was a time even earlier this year that pitching at the Major League level didn’t seem in the cards this soon.

“I was sitting in the dugout with (rookie pitcher) Brad Bergesen and he looked at me and said, ‘How sweet is this? This is unbelievable,'” said Berken, who is scheduled to make his next start against Detroit in Baltimore this afternoon. “It is so cool to say that I’m a major league pitcher.”

A few months ago, this didn’t seem possible. Not this soon, at least.

Not after the Orioles didn’t invite Berken to spring training. Not after they started him in Class AA again.

Berken never complained, though. He didn’t care where he started, only where his journey ended.

“You really have to take advantage of your opportunities,” he said. “It’s about getting opportunities. You have to be ready and focused. The best advice I got was to never get comfortable.”

Indeed, this is no time to be comfortable.

It’s difficult to tell what the Orioles think of Berken, who was listed by Baseball America as the 11th-best pitcher in Baltimore’s system.

Berken may not have the same long leash as some of the Orioles’ prized prospects that are beginning to trickle into the majors — the prospects who probably can struggle and still be given multiple chances.

For his part, Berken isn’t content with just getting to the big leagues. He went into Trembley’s office before his start on Tuesday and told the second-year manager just that.

Trembley in turn told his new pitcher he appreciated the words, and told him this wasn’t a tryout: Berken didn’t have to pitch the game of his life to stay up with the big club.

And that’s something that was pointed out on Venci’s preps blog earlier this week by Berken’s former American Legion manager.

“Let’s put it this way, the only people Jason needs to impress are the Orioles brass,” Lukes said.

“So many people who aren’t knowledgeable about the nuances of the game pass their opinions off, and it’s irritating to read. So I for one am just going to quit reading that stuff. He’s been written off how many times in his career: too small to pitch in Division I, he’s from Wisconsin, he won’t recover from Tommy John surgery, his stuff isn’t good enough for pro ball, etc. The list of things said by naysayers is endless.

“I do know this much: There are a lot of guys who are more talented than Jason who will never sniff a big-league mound because they don’t have his focus and work ethic. Those are the sorts of things baseball executives notice, but the average fan might not. The Orioles, or any pro team for that matter, just aren’t going to hand starts to a guy who isn’t in their long-term plans. He’s had two good outings, and myself and 99.8 percent of De Pere is very proud of him. For a guy who was never first-team all-conference in baseball in high school, I would say he’s done quite fine.”

From pitching for the West DePere Phantoms & DePere Legion Panthers to pitching for the Baltimore Orioles … not too shabby.

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