Chicago Cubs: Jason Berken

Recker claimed; four are outrighted

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
4:58
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – Catcher Anthony Recker, who was designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, was claimed by the New York Mets on Thursday.

The Cubs designated Recker to make room on the 40-man roster for right-hander Carlos Gutierrez, who the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

In addition to losing Recker, the Cubs also outrighted four players to Triple-A Iowa: infielder Adrian Cardenas, as well as right-handers Miguel Socolovich, Jason Berken and Marcos Mateo. All four are now off the 40-man roster.

Record not highlight for new Cubs pitcher

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
5:29
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- There is nothing like tying a major-league record in your second career start with a new team.

[+] EnlargeJason Berken
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJason Berken pitched six shutout innings against the Reds on Thursday.
For new Chicago Cubs pitcher Jason Berken, though, the record was so obscure it almost went unnoticed.

The right-hander, who was acquired off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles earlier this month, matched a major league mark when he struck out four batters in the second inning.

He started the top of the second with a strikeout of Denis Phipps before moving on to strike out Ryan Hanigan. But because of a wild pitch on the third strike, Hanigan was able to reach first base. Berken then rebounded by striking out Didi Gregorious and fellow pitcher Johnny Cueto.

“Honestly I didn’t realize it until I sat back down in the dugout,” Berken said. “It was cool, I guess. By no means am I going for strikeouts. For me it’s important to force the early contact and have the ability to pitch deep in the game. But in that inning I threw some good sliders and got ahead in the count. I got the strikeouts, but I’m not going to get used to that.”

Berken is now the fifth Cubs pitcher ever to strike out four in an inning. The last to do it was Ryan Dempster on the last day of the 2009 season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kerry Wood (2002), Bill Bonham (1974) and Jim David (1956) also did it.

What was more important to Berken moving forward was the fact that he gave up just two hits over six scoreless innings. Any impression he can make over the final month will be key for him moving into next season.

“It was one start, but it’s important for me to build off this and put together another one after this,” said Berken, who is lined up to make two more outings before the end of the season. “There is always something to prove. I’m never comfortable and will never assume something. For me it’s a matter of stringing together a couple of more good starts and go into the offseason on a positive note.”

Despite the fact that he was with the contending Orioles just a month ago and is now with the rebuilding Cubs, Berken only sees the positives.

“I’m extremely happy for those guys and have a lot of good friends on that team,” Berken said. “It’s a great city and a great organization. I don’t think anybody over there is surprised, including myself.

“But like I said, I am very happy to be here and this opportunity for me is not something I take lightly. I want to take advantage of it and I’m thrilled to be a Cub. It means a lot to be here and the opportunity I’m getting is appreciated.”

Defense doesn't help Berken in debut

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
5:57
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
ESPNChicago.com
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Jason Berken's Chicago Cubs debut didn’t go nearly as smoothly as he’d hoped. However, manager Dale Sveum was quick to point out that the blame for the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday didn’t fall solely on Berken’s shoulders.

[+] EnlargeJason Berken
AP Photo/David BanksJason Berken went four innings in his Cubs debut, allowing six runs, but only two earned.
“He was a victim of a couple errors as well, it could have been a decent little outing,” Sveum said. “Probably would've went five innings, gotten into the fifth giving up only two. But a couple errors cost him pitches and the ability to go five or six today. It wasn't too bad, he didn't really have a breaking ball to go with anything, but his changeup was half way decent. So that was a decent little pitch he had working for him there.”

To his credit, Berken wasn’t looking for any easy excuses and felt he could have done a better job of minimizing the damage caused by the defensive failings. Berken went four innings, giving up six runs (only two earned) while striking out two, walking one and allowing eight hits, including a long home run off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.

Berken, a Green Bay native, left 30 tickets for friends and family and guessed another 15 or so came on their own.

"I think when I was out there warming up today, being on the mound, it hit me, you know, 'I'm at Wrigley,’” Berken said. “It's the same game. It's baseball. I've got to execute. I didn't do that today. But definitely a great experience, for sure. By no means was I taken aback by (the atmosphere) too much."

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 7, Cubs 6

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
3:49
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
ESPNChicago.com
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A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

How it happened: Jason Berken struggled in his Cubs debut, but his defense did little to aid him in his attempt to hold down the Pirates offense. Pittsburgh scored six runs in the first four innings, only two of which were earned. Throwing errors by catcher Welington Castillo and third baseman Josh Vitters led to four unearned runs as the Pirates jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead. The Cubs scratched across a few more runs and threatened in the ninth, but couldn't complete the comeback, ending their four-game win streak against the Pirates.

What it means: Dave Sappelt continues to look solid in a very small sample with the Cubs as he went 2-for-5 on the day, improving to 9-for-24 on the season (.375). While he may hope for more than just a fourth outfielder spot in the future, he looks like a legitimate candidate to fill Reed Johnson's role in 2013 and possibly beyond.

Outside the box: Darwin Barney extended his single-season errorless streak at second base to 130 games and added a pair of brilliant plays in the process. Barney ventured far to his left to steal a single from Pedro Alvarez and made a great catch with his back to the infield on a Travis Snider pop-up as he avoided colliding with Sappelt.

Up next: Chris Volstad (3-10, 5.99) takes on Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.29) as the Cubs play the third of a four-game set against the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon at 1:20 p.m.

Cubs give chance to ... gulp ... a Packers fan

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
6:03
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH -- The newest Chicago Cubs pitcher is excited for his opportunity in Chicago while admitting that he will be somewhat of a fish out of water.

Jason Berken, who will take over Jeff Samardzija's spot in the rotation beginning with a start next Saturday, is not only a Green Bay native, but an actual Packers season ticket holder.

[+] EnlargeJason Berken
G Fiume/Getty ImagesJason Berken is glad to get a chance with the Cubs.
“I came to the NFC championship a few years ago, I was (in Chicago) for it,” Berken said of the Packers’ 21-14 victory over the Bears to advance to the Super Bowl. “It was a pretty awesome experience. Unfortunately I’m pretty die-hard.”

Just how die-hard? Berken’s tickets are on the 50-yard line and the season-ticket account has been passed along through four different family members among three different generations going back to the late 1960s.

The tickets were first owned by his great aunt, passed along to his grandfather and then to his mother before Berken took them over last season.

He actually resides full time in Atlanta, but comes back to Green Bay a few times each winter to see games. The tickets he doesn’t use go to other family members.

(Read full post)

Cubs give open rotation spot to Berken

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
8:44
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH – With Jeff Samardzja now shut down for the season, Jason Berken will take his spot in the rotation the rest of the season.

Haven’t heard of Berken? The Cubs claimed him off waivers Friday from the Baltimore Orioles and the right-hander could be in Pittsburgh as early as Saturday.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Blake Parker was put on the 60-day disabled list with a reoccurrence of discomfort from an earlier bone contusion.

Berken pitched in just one major-league inning this season, but is 10-17 over the past four seasons with the Orioles and has a 5.5.40 ERA in 106 outings and 24 starts. At Triple-A Norfolk this season, Berken was 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA over 26 starts.

The Cubs starting rotation now consists of Travis Wood, Chris Rusin, Chris Volstad, Justin Germano and Berken.

Samardzija, in his first season as a starter, will make one last start Saturday at Pittsburgh and then be shut down for the season as a precaution.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .280
HRA. Rizzo 20
RBIS. Castro 52
RA. Rizzo 60
OPSA. Rizzo .890
ERAJ. Samardzija 2.83
SOJ. Hammel 104