PITTSBURGH -- Jason Berken had gone home to Atlanta after being designated for assignment by the Orioles and wasn't sure what was next. Then he got a call from the Cubs.
The right-handed pitcher was claimed off waivers on Friday, and now finds himself in Chicago's rotation for the final weeks of the season, beginning next weekend as he fills in for Jeff Samardzija, who is being shut down because he's reached his innings limit. Berken, 28, will make his Cubs debut next Saturday at Wrigley Field when they host the Pirates.
"It's a pretty awesome opportunity," Berken said Saturday. "I'm pretty excited. I had a pretty good year in Triple-A this year, and the work paid off in the end. I'm from the Midwest and Green Bay, and I grew up watching Cubs games."
That's right, Cubs fans. He's a Packers season-ticket holder.
"I'm pretty diehard," he said.
He's focused for now on showing the Cubs what he can do. In 26 starts at Triple-A Norfolk, Berken went 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA, walking 39 and striking out 98 over 144 innings. He finished with a 3.00 ERA in six August games.
On Saturday, he was introducing himself to Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney.
"I think the change of scenery and being up here gives you a little bit extra for the last month," Berken said. "I anticipate throwing well. I'm feeling good."