Arrieta shut down for season, will have bone spur removed from elbow

Notebook

Surgery considered minor; VandenHurk will get start in his place

September 18, 2010|By Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

After making 18 big league starts, Orioles rookie right-hander Jake Arrieta has been shut down for the season, but not solely for the expected reason.

Arrieta, 24, will have a bone spur removed from his right elbow Wednesday by Orioles orthopedic surgeon Andrew Cosgarea. Arrieta said he has had the spur for years and it isn't painful, but the club decided to have it taken care of now as a precautionary measure.

"I think it's going to be for the best. I talked to the doctor and the trainers, and we decided that I'm just going to go ahead and get that bone spur taken out," Arrieta said. "They said the rehab is like a week or two weeks at the most, just to get some range of motion back."

The minor surgery is not expected to affect his offseason preparation, unless there is an unforeseen complication.

"Knowing that it's not a very serious type of surgery makes me feel a little bit better. I guess everybody is cautious going into any type of surgery. I've never really had anything done before," Arrieta said. "Everything is going to roll into the offseason. They said that by the beginning of October, mid-October, you'll be fine just as long as everything heals up and doesn't get infected. That's the only concern."

There had been speculation that Arrieta would be shut down before his scheduled start Tuesday, but that was because he has already pitched a combined 1731/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk and the majors this year, surpassing his career high of 1502/3 innings set in the minors in 2009. The Orioles were waffling on the decision because they were interested in having the rookie face the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, something he has never done.

But when Arrieta felt tightness in his right triceps after his last start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles decided to have Arrieta undergo an magnetic resonance imaging. It revealed a ligament that was in good shape, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, but confirmed the bone spur.

"I knew I had it when I was in college," said Arrieta, who was drafted out of Texas Christian in 2007. "My flexibility hasn't gotten any worse, so I have been healthy, 100 percent, since then."

The bone spur is only a partial reason for shutting down Arrieta, however. The Orioles didn't want him to exceed his personal best in innings pitched by more than 30 innings.

"It was 50-50," Showalter said about whether Arrieta was going to make his next start in Boston before the MRI. "We were going to err on the side of caution with that one. It might have been 51-49, no."

Arrieta will end the season 6-6 with a 4.66 ERA in 18 starts. He struck out 52 batters and walked 48 while allowing 106 hits in 1001/3 innings. In his last eight starts, he was 3-3 with a 3.78 ERA.

"I can see why people are high on him, and I can see why he's had some challenges, too," Showalter said. "He seemed to be getting better as it went on. He's just got to come in next year. He's going to have a chance to make our club."

Arrieta, who was 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 12 games at Norfolk before his call-up June 10, said 2010 was a success for him.

"Overall, I am very happy with the way the year went. I made a lot of strides at Norfolk at the beginning of the year from last year. And then the same thing here," Arrieta said. "I got here, struggled for an extended period of time, but had some really good starts mixed in there and then found some consistency over the last four starts.

"It's just a matter of learning, and the quicker you learn, the more success you are going to have early. I was able to learn a lot and use it, and it showed out there on the field."

VandenHurk to get start

Shutting down Arrieta will give the Orioles an opportunity to see Rick VandenHurk start, Showalter said. He'll pitch either Tuesday or Wednesday at Fenway Park, with Brad Bergesen getting the other start. VandenHurk threw an inning in relief Saturday night, but Showalter said that was because he hadn't pitched since Monday.

"I would like to get a look at him [as a starter]," Showalter said of VandenHurk. "That's another guy that we talked about, like [infielder Robert] Andino, who is out of options and he's going to be sitting there next spring. Every chance you get to make a good call on the guy, you do."

The Orioles received VandenHurk on July 31 when they dealt reliever Will Ohman to the Florida Marlins. VandenHurk started at Norfolk, but was recalled Aug. 16 and placed in the Orioles' bullpen.

He has allowed three earned runs in 101/3 innings with the Orioles, including an impressive outing Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he entered in the second for injured starter Brian Matusz and threw 51/3 innings, allowing just one run on two hits.

Of his 39 major league appearances, 32 have been starts — all with the Marlins. He is 8-9 with a 5.92 ERA in those games.

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