Orioles' Arrieta eagerly awaiting home opener

'I've actually had trouble sleeping the past couple of nights,' young right-hander says

April 03, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After seeing various Opening Day festivities on television Thursday and taking part in them Friday night at Tropicana Field, Orioles starter Jake Arrieta has had plenty of time to ponder what it will be like Monday afternoon at Camden Yards.

The 25-year-old rarely shows much emotion but acknowledges that there is something about getting the ball for the home opener that has had his mind racing in recent days.

"I've actually had trouble sleeping the past couple of nights," Arrieta said Saturday night before leaving the club early to get a little extra rest before Monday's start. "Just watching Opening Day, watching our game [Friday], it's just exciting. It came quick. We're all excited that spring is over. We're ready to play meaningful games. There is a lot of excitement behind our team from our fans and even some other team's fans who are just looking forward to watching us play. It's a good feeling. To start in front of our fans, Opening Day at Camden, it's special. It feels good."

Arrieta, who went 6-6 with a 4.66 ERA in his 18 starts during his rookie season in 2010, is technically the Orioles' third starter. However, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor decided to slot him fourth in the rotation, which meant his pitching the home opener.

"I think he was a little more equipped to pitch in that game. It's where his day fell in spring training," Showalter said. "Obviously, we could have adjusted it a little bit, but it felt like he was equipped to handle it and he was pitching pretty well in the spring in his last couple outings, so we knew we were going to line up with Jeremy [Guthrie] and Brian [Matusz] the first two days and we felt like he was our best option [for the home opener]."

The assignment is a reminder of how far the young right-hander has come in a short period. At this time last year, Arrieta was at Twins Lake Park preparing for the minor league season. After going 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 12 outings for Triple-A Norfolk, Arrieta was promoted to the big leagues June 10 and beat the New York Yankees that night in his big league debut.

Arrieta believes that outing, in front of a packed house at Camden Yards, was good preparation for Monday's start.

"I don't think you'll get any more nerve-racking and adrenaline pumping than it was in my debut," he said. "I expect similar emotions to take place on Monday, but I know how to handle that. I'm ready for that. That's why you play this game. You play for that type of feeling, that adrenaline rush. To be able to feel that is special."

Scott sidelined

Orioles left fielder Luke Scott did not play Sunday and could be out of the lineup until Wednesday with soreness in his right groin. Scott has been dealing with the soreness for four or five days, and it forced him out of the game in the seventh inning Saturday.

"When I was running, it just kept getting tighter and tighter throughout the game. [Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] took a look at it. There are no divots or anything like that, no pulled muscle. It's just kind of strained a little bit. I'm hoping it'll just be a couple days, a day or two. I played on it the last few days. Last year, when I did my hamstring, I felt a pop, I felt it pull. This just kept getting tighter and tighter and locked up."

Showalter didn't rule out the outfielder for Monday's home opener against the Detroit Tigers, but Scott said it's probably more likely he returns to the lineup Wednesday.

"It'll be real tough, but adversity comes. No one is a stranger to it. It's frustrating, but you just keep going, have a good attitude, work hard, do what you can," Scott said. "Whatever you have control over, do it to the best of your ability. That's all you can do."

Procedure for Duchscherer

Injured starter Justin Duchscherer will have an ablation procedure on his lower back, which should shut him down for four or five days. The pain-management procedure involves using radio frequency waves to heat up nerves and, as a result, decreases pain.

Duchscherer, on the disabled list with a strained left hip, has had the procedure before, and it has helped him. The right-hander was initially targeting an April 21 return from the disabled list, but the latest setback with his back likely pushes that date back.

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