Originally created 03/16/05

Bernero hoping to make first-rate staff



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - One would be pressed to find a better example of a major leaguer with evolving priorities than Atlanta Braves non-roster invitee Adam Bernero.

After throwing five lackluster seasons with teams with losing records - Detroit and Colorado - he's decided that the possibility of slipping on a ring beats slipping into the end of a rag-tag rotation.

With that in mind, Bernero decided in the off-season to spurn offers from several teams to vie for a fifth-starter spot to be a longshot in Atlanta's camp instead.

Teams he's been a part of, either for partial or whole seasons, are a combined 385-586 (.396) since he surfaced with the Tigers in 2000.

"I didn't want to play for another losing team, and there were about nine or 10 I could have signed with," Bernero said. "But I've learned that being the 12th guy on a championship team is better than being the ace on a losing team."

Bernero said, going into the spring, that he thought his chances were "not good" to make the Braves' 25-man roster, considering he would have to supplant pitchers on the 40-man squad.

Now, after putting together solid appearance after solid appearance in Florida, he says his chances have improved.

Bernero has allowed no runs and struck out eight in six innings.

"I'm just trying to keep my head down and do my work, and hopefully everything will work out all right," said Bernero, who is expected to throw again tonight. "I hope how I pitch will be enough to make the team."

Even as well as things are clicking, rock bottom isn't that distant of a memory. It came in Bernero's third season.

In 2003, he started the season 1-12 for a Tigers team that wound up 43-119 overall.

Relief came in the form of a mid-season trade to get him out of the Motor City. Unfortunately the deal shipped him to Colorado - and the worst park in the league for pitchers - Coors Field.

Things were so bad, they became humorous. Especially in Detroit.

"It was just kind of embarrassing going out there," Bernero said. "There were a lot of guys that weren't ready to be there. It just kind of crumbled around us. We were trying to learn in the big leagues, and that's a tough thing to do.

"A lot of Triple-A teams would have beaten us."

The clubhouse he belongs to now is far from embarrassing.

"It's no wonder they win with what they have and how they act," he said. "It starts with Bobby Cox. After you meet that guy you want to run through a wall for him."

"I have no clue (why he hasn't succeeded) with the way he's pitching right now," Cox said.

MORE CUTS: In the Braves' second round of cuts Tuesday, the team sent left-handed pitcher Macay McBride, a graduate of Screven County, and infielder Luis Hernandez down to minor league camp.

Reach Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.