PITTSBURGH — Jake Arrieta's next start will be pushed back four days as the right-hander deals with inflammation related to the bone spur in his right elbow.
Arrieta, whose next turn would have been Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds, is tentatively scheduled to start Wednesday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was removed from Monday's start after five innings and just 87 pitches and later acknowledged that he was struggling physically. His velocity was down throughout the outing.
"Just some soreness but, again, nothing that I haven't really had to deal with several times throughout my career," said Arrieta, who entered Wednesday tied for the major league lead with nine wins. "It's just something that we need to stay on top of. I told [manager Buck Showalter], and talking to the trainers, there's a period there where I won't be sore or have any issues for a month, a month and a half.
"You know, two or three starts, it will kind of creep up a little bit. But it's just a matter of maintaining it and kind of keeping it at a level where I can go out there and still perform."
Arrieta was shut down a little early last season because of elbow discomfort. He initially was planning to get the bone spur removed but decided against it after a consultation with renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum. At the time, Arrieta thought it was unnecessary to get it removed because he had been pitching with it for a long time and felt that the procedure could put him at risk for needing Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery later in his career.
"It's just kind of something I have to deal with," he said. "We know what it is, which is a good thing. There's no surprise. Just, like I said, we got to manage it, continue to do the treatment and keep the swelling down."
Arrieta, who acknowledged that his elbow also gave him trouble during his April 29 start against the Chicago White Sox, said he feels like he could have made his next start, but he didn't complain about Showalter's decision to push him back. Showalter said the Orioles would look for opportunities throughout the season to give Arrieta a couple of extra days between starts, and days off Thursday and Monday allow them to do that this time.
"It's something that is manageable, we hope," Showalter said. "I think it's the second time it's kind of flared up on him. It's something that he can pitch with and through. You don't like it, but we're aware of it. We'll take some precautions where we can with it. If he continues down the road that he is, he should be able to make all his starts the rest of the year. We'll see. We'll keep an eye on it, and if we have to, we'll back off."
Rotation set through weekend
With Arrieta getting pushed back, Chris Jakubauskas will start Friday's series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, followed by Brian Matusz on Saturday and Jeremy Guthrie in Sunday's series finale.
Jakubauskas and Matusz were essentially flip-flopped because Showalter wants to break up the two left-handers in his rotation, Matusz and rookie Zach Britton.
That would leave Britton starting Tuesday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, followed by Arrieta and Matusz to complete the homestand. Showalter, though, said a final decision on the rotation for the Cardinals series wouldn't be made for a couple of days.
"This works better all around in satisfying the needs of the individual pitchers and the club," Showalter said. "That's the way we look at it. It's not a perfect science. Sometimes the extra off days give you too many options to pick from."
Helping their own cause
Britton got the loss in Wednesday's 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but not before putting on another impressive hitting display for an Orioles starting pitcher. The rookie left-hander went 2-for-3 with a run and is 3-for-4 for his career with an RBI double.
Overall, Orioles pitchers went 7-for-15 (.467) with two doubles and two RBIs over the past six interleague games. Entering Wednesday, all other American League teams got a combined 9-for-120 (.075) performance from their pitchers.
Meanwhile, Matusz is the only Orioles starting pitcher to not get a hit over the past six games.
"We're real proud of what our pitchers are doing at the plate," Showalter said. "In some cases, you should probably be asking if we should push them further up in the order. Believe me, we're going to hear about it the rest of the season when I'm looking for a pinch-hitter. One guy, I won't say [who], broke his bat bunting the other day. That's hard to do. It's fun to watch them. They're into it."
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