Arrieta eager to show Orioles that elbow problems are in the past

January 22, 2012|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta said he’s progressing well from August surgery to remove a ping-pong ball-sized bone chip from his right elbow.

“I’ve done about eight weeks of rehab,” Arrieta said at Saturday’s FanFest. “We did a lot of things out of the box.“

Arrieta started last season strong, winning five of his first six decisions and opening the season with a 9-4 record and 11 quality starts in his first 16 outings. But he struggled all through July as the elbow began to regress to the point where he knew he needed season-ending surgery.

Arrieta, who could have had the surgery the previous offseason, said the injury became so bad that it was difficult to get through a five-inning start without extreme discomfort or pain.

“I would be alright most of the time when the game started, but there were times when I’d come in after the first inning and it would tighten up and start swelling and I’d go out for the second inning and be a completely different pitcher,” Arrieta said.

Now he hopes to show he’s back to his early 2011 form. He already said he will enter the season with a mental edge knowing the spur has been removed. Barring routine throwing-program soreness, Arietta said he’s pain free.

“Going out there this year knowing in the back of my mind that that wont be something that comes up from start to start will be good,” he said. “I’m just really looking forward to starting the season 100 percent healthy and finishing it that way. Just knowing that’s not in my elbow anymore I’ll be a lot better for it.”

Arrieta said he will go into spring training focusing on his consistency and trying to show the Orioles brass he can be a 200-plus innings pitcher. During the team’s three-day minicamp he said he also concentrated on speeding up his delivery to home plate.

“For me, the main thing besides getting my elbow healthy was to quicken my time to the plate with men on base,” Arrieta said. “(Orioles manager Buck Showalter) stressed to me that if you can’t be quick to the plate and you can’t keep guys honest, you’re not going to pitch in the big leagues. If we’re able to do that, we’re going to be a lot better for that.  We won’t have guys taking easy bases on us, guy getting into scoring position. It will probably shave a few runs off our ERA.”

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