Plan "A" was his own: to take on the best pitching staff in baseball and become an important piece of their puzzle. Bernero had offers this past winter from a lot of other clubs, all without the Braves' history of terrific pitching.
"I knew I had a better chance to play with other teams," Bernero admits. "I just didn't want to play for another losing team."
Bernero had a 6-23 career record coming into this season, but again, all of his 110 career appearances had been with not just losing clubs, but horrible teams. The Braves knew he had good stuff, so they gave him the shot he wanted.
Plan "A" - done.
Plan "B" was to pitch like he knew he could.
"I've always had good mechanics, that has never been a problem," Bernero believes.
His job, like any non-roster invitee, was to impress the higher ups and hold of the charge of home young grown pitchers. And that it was not so easy. The impressive springs of Kyle Davies, Kevin Barry and Buddy Hernandez and the fact that they were drafted, raised, and well known in the organization probably made it tougher than it should have been. But after pitching well and impressing Braves' Manager Bobby Cox, Bernero made the Atlanta roster.
Plan "B" - done.
Plan "C" is the Braves' plan and it is an old one. The one that so many players that come over from other teams say is the biggest difference. And that is a winning attitude.
"You just feel it from day one," Bernero explains. "You feel it around the clubhouse, even in spring training. You're here to win and they don't accept anything less. It's like 'alright you're here now you have to step it up a little bit.'"
For the first time in his career the 28-year-old Bernero is not one of the older guys on the staff. "I had never been around veteran pitchers before," he says. "I talk to the veterans here. They don't mind so I just pick their brains a little bit."
Plan "C" - done.
Plan "D" was Leo's plan, and that plan is not a secret. It has been preached and written about and proven over the years. But, for some reason, to a lot of the league it is still a mystery.
"Leo has given me a plan," Bernero says. What did Leo tell Bernero? Ok…say it with me by now, you all know it by heart: "down and away and stay aggressive." Adam says he doesn't feel he is really pitching any different than he has the last few years, but instead, "it's the approach". Bernero is now aggressive and appears willing to try whatever it takes to succeed.
Plan "D" - done.
Have all the plans come together? Well, if happiness is the measure of success, then yes.
"I go to sleep with the biggest smile ever," Bernero says. "I haven't had this much fun playing baseball in a long time."
That might be good enough in T-Ball where the score doesn't matter, but this is Major League Baseball, where success is measured in wins, loses, ERA, and saves. Happy doesn't enter into it when a fourteenth straight playoff appearance is on the line.
But it looks like things are working out for Adam and the Braves with these early numbers: 2-0, 2.08 ERA and 10 hits in 13 innings in his 10 games pitched.
"So everything panned out and worked out good," Bernero says.
It's nice when plans come together. But when he gets his World Series ring, it will be Mission Accomplished.
Who is Braves' prospect Anthony Lerew's favorite Brave? Why Adam Bernero, of course! On Thursday night's telecast of the Mississippi Braves, Lerew surprisingly named the newest Braves pitcher as his favorite.
"That kid! We hung out in Spring Training and we became friends," Bernero admits. "I love that kid, man."
Bernero took some ribbing from the guys in the Atlanta clubhouse the next day, but you could tell he was a little flattered. Lerew throws hard, so you would expect Smoltz to be his favorite. But like Bernero, Lerew is unconventional.
I asked Bernero, as a 28-year-old sage, what advice he passed on to young Lerew, and the answer was not what I expected.
"Actually we just hung out," Bernero says. " We didn't really talk baseball."
Whatever they talked about, it has worked for both of them. Lerew turned a lot of heads with a great spring, and after a little bit of a slow start in Mississippi, he has turned in back-to-back strong performances. You should be seeing him in Atlanta sometime in the 2006 season and the two friends may be reunited.
Hmm…could that have been part of the plan all along? I'll have to ask.