Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jason Bergmann: Bridge Guy

Ryan Zimmerman, Cristian Guzman and Jason Bergmann are the only three players that have been on Our Washington Nationals Major League Roster every season since baseball returned to Washington, D.C. in 2005. For Bergmann, 2010 is a pivotal year. He is out of options and competing for a job in middle relief as a "Bridge Guy" in Jim Riggleman's bullpen.

We caught up with Jason after practice yesterday. As always, Bergmann is open to most any question about himself and his team. With that here is Our Conversation With Jason Bergmann.

This is a pivotal year for your Nationals’ career, is it not?

“Yeah, but I think every year is that way, right?”

But you are out of options?


Does that put more pressure on you?

“No. I don’t feel any more pressure than any other year. Every year has been pretty much the same in trying to make the team. It’s the same camp in that respect.”

And each year the competition gets better.

“Isn’t that good though? (Yeah) Because I think that’s fantastic.”

But does that help you?

“Yeah, I guess. Competition should bring out the best in everybody. In previous years, we’ve always had position battles, but this year we probably have five positions open (on the pitching staff) at most. So a lot of guys will be battling for spots.”

You moved around in your role with this team--long man, starter, middle relief...

“And I think that makes this a little easier for me as I have done all those roles at this level. The difference this year is that I have a full year of doing one thing under my belt and not being bounced back and forth. I know what that is like. It’s not fun. Last year, I had to ask what position I was going for. This year, I know what position I am going for.”

You believe Jim Riggleman has found the role you can excel at in the Major Leagues?

“Yes. But he can put me in any situation. I just have to get the job done. Last year, I was pleased he had enough confidence to do that with me. I enjoyed it very much. The whole attitude of the team changed (when Riggleman was named manager). We started picking up the pace, winning some ball games after that dreadful start. But we finished pretty strong with a lot of the guys who were there the whole season.”

You like the fact the attitude has changed?

“The attitude changed when Riggleman took over, but more than anything, this off-season, they (management) did a good job of acquiring talented guys, guys with proven track records. And potential is not the word of camp--it’s what guys have done. Their careers and track records speak for themselves.”

You definitely feel this is a vastly improved ball club?

“I think you can say that. The bullpen has been stabilized a bit. The rotation has been stabilized. That’s good thing for John Lannan who has carried the brunt of the team weight on his shoulders when he goes out there. A guy like (Jason) Marquis can come out and take the pressure off of John. That also gives us two solid starters at the top of the rotation. We can then go from there. A lot of guys have a lot of experience this year. Now, you are looking at guys who are fighting for a spot or two with a full-year of Nationals experience. And some with a good solid half-year last season. At the beginning of the second half (of 2009), we had four straight starters who began the year at Triple A (Syracuse). They all can use that experience to fight for the team.”

“When you add guys with experience like Pudge, it forces Jesus Flores to be better. It forces (Wil) Nieves to be better. When you throw a guy like Adam Kennedy in there, all of a sudden guys are fighting for a spot to back up on a Major League Team and no longer being moved up just because you are the only guy that plays that position.”

There is depth in this organization that has not existed previously.

“Yeah, that is what Rizzo’s done. He brought guys in to fill the top which trickles guys down throughout the entire system. When you have a set infield, a set catcher, a set few spots in the bullpen and rotation, you are talking about a lot of guys being unhappy heading back to Triple A this year.”

So where do you see yourself fitting in that mix?

“Pretty much the same as last year. I’d like to be a bridge guy. I realize the back end of our bullpen is probably pretty settled. I want to be to guy who comes in, just gets the outs, bridge from the starter--who may go five and 2/3rd’s or six innings--come in and get us through the 7th inning. I would love to be a part of that. And I would love to be a part of this team when we win.”

We are confident the team is going to be competitive.

“I am really happy with what is going on. The direction is so much more positive than in the past. Each year you could have written the same things, but this year it’s different. We are more excited about the upcoming season. We can easily forget about last year because so many of these guys weren’t even here last year. We were alternating catchers last year between (Josh) Bard & Nieves. Pudge is a Hall Of Famer to be, a World Series Champion. You can’t get that experience anywhere else. To be able to have him in our lineup and have Adam Kennedy at second base. Last year, I think, we had five or six guys play second base. This move allows Ian Desmond to grow.”

Last question--first thoughts on Stephen Strasburg?

“He’s being treated like any other guy around here. There is the occasional joke or two about Super Strasburg. But he’s bringing fans out which makes it a better situation for everybody else. He’s a team player. He’s a great guy. He wants to learn. The hype is there in the media, but here he is just another player, a teammate and a great to be around.”

With that final answer Our Conversation With Jason Bergmann concluded.

Bergmann Photo Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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