Orioles starter Jake Arrieta delivers against the visiting… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. —
— Jake Arrieta admitted after his last start on Tuesday that his body felt heavy, his legs felt weak and he didn't feel like himself physically. But as the young starter nears a professional high in innings pitched, Arrieta said he is more than ready physically to take the ball every five days for the rest of the season.
"The last start was just one of those days where you get out of bed and you feel a little sluggish," said Arrieta who allowed five earned runs in six innings, but beat the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. "It's not a case of being drained physically from the long year. I just think it was one of those days. I have that every once in a while. The shoulder feels great, the body feels fresh. I have plenty of innings in me, I
know that. From my conditioning standpoint, I think I'm in as good as shape as anybody out there."
Arrieta, who starts here on Sunday in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays, has pitched 139 1/3 innings this season in 24 combined appearances for Norfolk and the Orioles. With a couple of more starts, he should pass his previous professional high of 150 2/3 innings pitched, set last year in 28 combined starts between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said on Thursday that team officials have at least discussed the idea of going to a six-man rotation in September, which would allow them to limit the number of innings from the young starters. However, Showalter said that the conversations haven't gone very far, and "from what I understand, everybody is in pretty good shape physically right now."
However, the Orioles are known to be cautious when it comes to the health of their young pitchers, and they could have a decision to make with Arrieta, who probably has eight or nine starts remaining if the rotation stays intact.
"My mindset is that I want to be here with the team for the rest of the year," said Arrieta, who believes that the season has taken more of a mental toll than a physical one. "I'd like to pitch throughout the rest of the year, but if they feel like 180 or 190 or how many innings they want me at, then that's fine. If that's going to be best for my future, that's quite all right."
Johnson on mend
The important thing for Jim Johnson is that he is no longer thinking about his right elbow. Now, he looks forward to the day where his sole focus is on making a quality pitch, and not everything else that leads up to it.
"I need to get to the point where things come natural to me where I don't have to think about them when I'm on the mound," Johnson said. "It's just a feel thing. The more reps you get, the better feel you're going to have. I've only thrown five games. It's going to take some time. I don't know how long until I get to that point where I'm able to repeat it on a consistent basis."
Johnson, who has been on the Major League disabled list since May 28 with right elbow inflammation, threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Bowie on Thursday night, striking out one. He's scheduled to throw another inning for Single-A Frederick on Saturday.
Johnson will eventually graduate to two-inning outings and throwing on back-to-back days and his rehabilitation assignment, performed at both Frederick and Bowie, is expected to last until Aug. 24 or 25 depending on the progress that he shows.
The reports were that Johnson's fastball sat between 91 and 93 miles per hour on Thursday, but that was the least of his concern.
"I felt fine," he said. "It's coming along. It's obviously not there yet. I missed a lot of time. I need to play catch up and that's only going to happen with the more pitches I throw. It's a lot of feel stuff. I'm not thinking about my arm anymore, which is obviously a huge thing. I'm just trying to learn how to pitch again. Once that comes, I'll be ready to go."
Showalter on Sarasota
Showalter met with officials responsible for the renovation of the Orioles' Sarasota spring training facility at Ed Smith Stadium to discuss the ongoing project, which is expected to be mostly compete by the time players report to Sarasota, Fla., next February to begin preparations for the 2011 season.
"I spent an hour or so … just looking at the plans, looking where they were," Showalter said. "[I was just] trying to get updated [on] some of the baseball functionality issues. I know we come back here in September. I wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be so much dirt moved around that we had to make a couple adjustments. They just asked about my experiences with three or four clubhouses, just asked, 'What do we need? Is it something we can tweak a little bit?'"
Team officials are optimistic that pretty much all of the project, except for the renovation of the clubhouse, will be completed in time for next spring training.