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PRO BASEBALL: Former Meade County star Rosenberg starting season with Lehigh Valley (04/01)

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By Chuck Jones

For B.J. Rosenberg, it was the best of times, but yet it was the worst of times.

Rosenberg made his Major League debut against the Baltimore Orioles on June 9. He entered in the bottom of the 11th inning and struck out Robert Andino. Rosenberg induced two flyouts to left field to retire the side.

In the bottom of the 12th, Rosenberg walked Chris Davis and Adam Jones followed with a two-run homer to lift the Orioles to a 6-4 victory.

“I had some family in Baltimore,” Rosenberg said. “They have cobblestone coming out of the bullpen in Baltimore and it’s uneven. I kept thinking to myself I can’t trip. I have to stay on my feet. I get to the mound and they announce now pitching B.J. Rosenberg, making his Major League debut.

“I took it all in,” he added. “It was really, really cool. I struck out the first batter. I have some good memories and some bad memories, but I try to just remember the good ones.”

Rosenberg, a former Meade County and University of Louisville standout, was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. He slowly worked his way up the organizational ladder, finally getting his first taste of the big leagues last season.

His career got off to a rocky start. After giving up two runs in his debut, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander was tagged for two runs in each of his next two outings.

After four scoreless innings, he was touched up for three runs against Miami and two more in his next outing against Milwaukee.

“I had a rough start in the big leagues, but I closed the season strong and I think I made a good impression,” Rosenberg said.

In a span of seven appearances, Rosenberg tossed 10 consecutive scoreless innings in September. He also picked up his first Major League victory Sept. 9 against Colorado. Rosenberg also earned a start at the end of the year, working four innings in a 4-2 loss to Washington. He didn’t factor in the decision, allowing only three hits, two walks and one earned run.

“It was huge,” Rosenberg said of his late season success. “You have to prove to yourself you can compete with these guys. I can’t concentrate on the name on the back of the jersey. The mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away, just like back at Meade-Olin Park. It did a lot for me to pitch well in September.”

Rosenberg went 1-2 with a 6.12 earned run average in 22 games with the Phillies last season, striking out 24 and walking 14 in 25 innings.Rosenberg had a tough spring, giving up 12 hits and 11 runs – nine earned – in 3 1/3 innings. He didn’t strike out a batter. He was scratched from one game with soreness in his right triceps, something which plagued him during the offseason.

“It affected me more in the offseason,” Rosenberg said. “I had some triceps tendinitis. I had to rest it in the offseason. I ended up going to Philly to get it checked and they shut me down for two weeks. I didn’t get my arm strength up during the offseason, but I’m good to go now.”

When healthy, Rosenberg, who lives in Carmel, Ind., with his wife Elly and 1-year-old daughter Aubrey, has a good fastball that he can hit the upper 90s with on occasion. He also mixes in a slider and splitter. Rosenberg will begin the season at Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate – the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He is slated to be in the rotation, which is somewhat of a change for him.

“I’m excited about being a starter,” Rosenberg said. “Last year I did it again. I enjoyed it. It’s not hard to go back and forth. It’s easy to go back to the bullpen as a starter. It’s a positive.”

In his first three seasons in the Philadelphia organization, Rosenberg was a reliever, mainly a closer. He was 33-of-40 in save opportunities before becoming a starter in 2011. Rosenberg said it’s been a transition going from the bullpen, where he excelled at Louisville, to the rotation.

“By now is the key word,” Rosenberg said. “In 2011 in Double-A, I started games and I hadn’t started any games since my senior season at Louisville. It took me awhile to get a routine. That’s the biggest difference. In the bullpen, you have a certain routine. They call down there, you get ready and then you’re in the game. As a starter, it’s a different routine.”

Rosenberg isn’t discouraged by being sent down to Triple-A to begin the season, but he’s defi-nitely looking forward to getting the call to go back to Philadelphia.

“It makes you hungry for it,” he said. “Some take it as a negative getting sent down. They get upset or show their attitude. Or you can take it as a positive. You got sent down for a reason, so you try to get better and do everything you can to win.”

His career has had its ups and downs, but Rosenberg remains positive. He realizes the opportunity he has and what he has gone through to get it. At Louisville, he was diagnosed with a torn labrum and he thought his career was over.

To come back from that and get a shot to pitch in the big leagues, Rosenberg has a deep, heart-felt appreciation for the game.

“Absolutely,” Rosenberg said. “I never take it for granted. I know how it felt when I was sitting in my locker and they told me I had a torn labrum. It was a miserable feeling. I thought I was done. So when I go through struggles, I remember that because the struggles help you in the

end.

“A few times in the minors when I was struggling, there were times when I wasn’t sure if I’d make it,” he added. “But I had to persevere through it and I got my opportunity. I’m playing the game that I love. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com