Camp Leo Report: Bernero excited at chance to win

As the legendary "Camp Leo" kicks off this week in Atlanta, BravesCenter Publisher Kyle Hawkins spoke with ex-Detroit Tiger and Colorado Rockie Adam Bernero, who is currently attending the Camp and is one of the many pitchers who will vie for a spot on the Atlanta pitching staff during Spring Training. Bernero speaks of the atmosphere around Camp Leo, and what he feels his chances are headed into the coming season.

It's hard not to feel just a little bit of sympathy for Adam Bernero. Signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1999, he quickly found himself a victim of the team's desperate need for young pitching and was called up during the 2000 season. Scarcely a year's worth of playing time in the minors, Bernero was thrust into the bullpen swing role, spot starting for the Tigers throughout 2000 and 2001.

After three excruciating seasons with Detroit, Bernero was traded, able to finally escape a team that would eventually lose a league record 119 games in the 2003. However, much to his dismay, the team he ended up with was no other than the Colorado Rockies; perennial NL West cellar-dwellers, who also happen to play in Coors Field – the burial ground for any other pitcher not named Pedro Astacio.

"I was just hoping that I would finally be going to a place where I would have a chance to do something," said Bernero, who was flipped back and forth between Colorado and Colorado Springs (AAA) for the following two years – struggling through shoulder woes and other issues brought on by pitching in the thin Colorado mountain air.

"It seems like your body is a little more tired, especially when you throw the next day you'll be a lot sorer. In the thin air, your body expands so everything is a little bit tighter; your arms are a little bit more tired and your joints are a little tighter. There's just no air there."

After spending his entire Major League career with losing teams in Colorado and Detroit, Bernero had one thing on his mind as he headed into Free Agency this offseason: Finding a winner.

"I had offers from around six teams, some I'm pretty confident that I could've been guaranteed jobs with," said Bernero, "But I'm tired of being on losing teams, and the possibility to come to Atlanta … well, their track record speaks very well for itself."

So Bernero agreed to a minor league deal with the Braves, hoping to make an impression with the team both in Camp Leo and in Spring Training. Camp Leo has been a new experience for Bernero thus far, as it is for many pitchers who find themselves thrust into the process of acclimating to Atlanta's style of preparing pitchers.

"It's a little different. We're throwing three days in a row, and I've never done anything like that in my life, which is interesting. The best thing about it, to me, is being able to be with some of the guys you could be playing with."

Bernero has already met with Leo Mazzone (who, in the midst of confusion around new players in camp wasn't sure of Bernero's name) and Bobby Cox, in addition to swapping introductions with John Thomson and new Braves addition Tim Hudson.

"Tim was around today, but the best part of it all was getting to meet Bobby Cox – that was like the coolest thing ever," said Bernero. "He was already dressed in full uniform, in February, and seemed like a really nice guy."

"When you see, and meet somebody like him you just get really fired up."

Bernero will stay at Camp Leo until around the 12th of February, soon thereafter heading down to the Spring Training at the team's Spring Training facilities. He is already eager to prove himself to the team he so desperately wants to play for.

"There's no compare to what it would be like playing [in Atlanta] compared to Detroit and Colorado. In Detroit we were just so bad. I mean, we were the worst team ever. It was bad to go into the game knowing that you were probably going to lose, or at least that your chances of winning weren't very good. Colorado you knew you had the talent, but we could never put anything together for whatever reason."

"But here, they know how to win. And there's an expectation to win. I think that will raise everyone's level, especially me – because I really want to pitch for these guys. I think it would be fun."

Atlanta Dugout Top Stories