BALTIMORE – After Sunday’s game, it was obvious. Jake Arrieta’s next start wasn’t going to be for the Orioles.
Arrieta was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday afternoon and reliever Alex Burnett was recalled.
On Sunday, Arrieta squandered a three-run lead in the fifth inning when he couldn’t retire a batter in a game the Orioles ended up losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-4.
“I wasn’t doing my job well enough. That’s the bottom line. The team needs me. They need me to be better,” Arrieta said. “I wasn’t good enough right now."
For three straight years, Arrieta started the Orioles’ home opener, and this spring he won a spirited competition for the final starter’s spot.
But, he was 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA in four starts with 16 walks in 19 innings.
“I'm not giving up many hits, just putting them on base for free,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta never pitched more than five innings in any of his starts, and that hurt the team.
“He’s being sent out because we need a pitcher in the bullpen. OK?” manager Buck Showalter said.
“Because of the way he pitched and the number of innings we had to pitch, we needed an arm.”
Arrieta has lots of admirers around baseball. Industry sources indicate that many clubs around baseball covet him and Showalter indicated that he would be prized if the Orioles wanted to trade him.
“I told Jake, he’s got stuff, the whole nine yards. People are lined up if we don’t like Jake, but you know, it will happen in some capacity, just a matter of at what level of good,” Showalter said.
In 2011, Arrieta started the first game of the season, pitching seven shutout innings, but by midseason was in Norfolk. Now, he’s going back.
“It’s not going to be a challenge at all,” Arrieta said.
“I don’t plan on being down there for long. I need to just keep moving in the right direction. I just need to pound the strike zone. It’s not a mechanical issue. It’s not a physical issue. It’s just going down there and doing it. I’ve done it before. I’ve done it for years. I’ve improved over the years, I need to keep improving. I need to be the guy that this team needs.”
Showalter said the Orioles still consider Arrieta a starter and won’t move him to the bullpen—at least not yet.
“At the very worst, Jake can do that. I really feel that. When I first got here, a lot of people thought that’s what might happen, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” Showalter said.
Arrieta has to stay down at Norfolk for at least 10 days, unless there’s an injury to a pitcher with the Orioles. While he’s been battered on the mound, his confidence remains intact.
“I know I can be a very effective starter for this organization at a high level. Just got to get better,” Arrieta said.