02/27/12 4:20 PM EST
Hard-working Arrieta throwing without pain
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"[Pitching coach] Rick Adair will come up to me every so often and just kind of tell me, 'Take it easy, pull it back a little bit.'" said Arrieta, whose work ethic is such that he periodically needs to be slowed down. "They are aware that I'm a guy who at times will do more than necessary. Not because I think I have to, it's just kind of my mentality.
"If there's something I can get better at, whether it's stretch for 10, 15 minutes before the workout or do a few more things in the weight room post-workout, within reason, I'll do it. I know my body a lot better than I did my first big league camp."
And for the first time since being drafted, Arrieta's body is without a spur -- roughly the size of a peanut shell -- on his pitching elbow, which was removed during a procedure that has him feeling better than ever and one he thinks will pay serious dividends on the mound.
"There's no tightness, no soreness, no pain or discomfort," said Arrieta, who went 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA last season before being shut down in early August. "I was telling some guys this is the first time since I can remember that I haven't needed to go to the training room for an hour, two hours before the workout just to be able to get through the day. So, that's a good feeling."
There are also improvements in his delivery, with Arrieta able to get into a much straighter line to the plate post-surgery, a correlation he can't describe, but one that should help improve his command.
"It's been so much easier to get the ball to certain spots," said Arrieta, who had 93 strikeouts against 59 walks last season. "I know what I need to do. I know how I need to execute the pitch and I'm able to do it with less effort. As far as my arm goes, it does feel different by the fact that I feel much better."
Projected to be part of the Orioles' starting rotation, there has also been some speculation that the 25-year-old Arrieta could possibly get a nod for this year's Opening Day. He was tabbed to start last year's home opener and with the departure of veteran Jeremy Guthrie, who was traded to Colorado, the O's have no clear-cut favorite for Opening Day.
"I don't worry about it too much," Arrieta said of the prospect of being the team's Opening Day starter. "I would love to be in that sort of situation, as many guys would. It's not something that is nerve-wracking to me or an uncomfortable situation. I feel like I've been in situations like that before and I feel like I thrive in situations like that. If I could be that guy, it'd be something I'd really look forward to."
• Pitcher Jon Link (hamstring) resumed working out Monday, although pitchers Jason Berken (left hamstring) and Willie Eyre (groin) did not participate ... Zach Britton (left shoulder inflammation) did some light throwing on flat ground, after going 60, 90 and 120 feet Sunday. Right now, he hasn't had any setbacks and continues to progress on schedule.
• Monday was the second day of live batting practice, although it's more tracking for the hitters, who aren't allowed to swing in the batter's box. The hitters will get to swing in the next go-around and then the team will have intrasquad games on March 2 and 3.
• Among the pitchers who threw Monday: Wei-Yin Chen, Pat Neshek, Armando Galarraga, Chris Tillman, Dylan Bundy, Oliver Drake, Steve Johnson and Miguel Socolovich ... Chen is a favorite to win a rotation spot, assuming he stays healthy, and manager Buck Showalter said the 26-year-old has been impressive.
"He has a good look in his eyes," Showalter said of Chen. "You can see why he's had success. It was fun watching him throw with a hitter in there. He looks pretty comfortable."
• Former Orioles players and current instructors Chris Hoiles and Alan Mills could shift over to the Minor League camp at Twin Lakes Park on Tuesday. Mills was hired as short-season Aberdeen's pitching coach this season, while Hoiles is a Spring Training instructor that Showalter said the organization is watching to see if he's ready for a full-time role.
"I've been impressed with him," Showalter said of Hoiles. "Chris has something to bring, and it always means a little bit more to a guy who played most of his career here. Same way with Alan. There's nobody more excited about being here than Alan Mills. I had Alan with the Yankees and he had a great persona about him. Alan's got a chance to be a real good coach. He's got a lot of attributes you look for. He's got a great presence and he's tough. As you well know, this guy isn't going to want to hear about a hangnail up in Aberdeen. He gets the toughness part of it, but he's also in a good place in his life where he wants to commit to this."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.