Manager Buck Showalter said he was still 50-50 whether he would shut down Jake Arrieta until the club decided to schedule an MRI on the rookie’s right elbow, which followed his admission that he felt “a little tightness” after his last start.
Arrieta was fine the next day, but the Orioles decided to be cautious.
“He’s 20, 23 innings over where he’s been. He’s in a good spot and I think it’s best to stop his innings right now,” Showalter said. “We looked at all the variables involved and just think this is the best thing. There are a lot of different variables there.”
The MRI was scheduled so the Orioles knew what they were dealing with and to “not let the off-season get away from us, see if there’s anything we need to do in there,” Showalter said.
“It’s something we’ve been aware of since as long as I’ve been here. Richie (Bancells) said you could find a lot of pitchers that have that same thing. I’m not ever going to sit here and say it’s a minimal procedure and all that other stuff. I don’t do that. But I know what the track record is of that type of adjustment if you have to make it medically. I just think all factors considered, it’s best to bring his pitching season to an end.”
Showalter also said the Orioles have received “bits and pieces” of the MRI results, “and it’s pretty much so far what they thought they would find.”
Arrieta has experienced tightness in his elbow after his starts for the last two or three years. “It’s just part of it,” Showalter said. “Everybody has discomfort after they pitch, but he was in about the same place after his last start as he’s been all year, so there was still thought about it and trying to weigh him pitching at Fenway and maybe getting a head start on something in case we want to do something medically with him.
“We’re not down that road yet, whether he’s going to have any procedure, but I will say this: We don’t want it to be something that, if the doctor says this is something that potentially could crop up next year, five years from now, seven years from now, if that’s even a possibility as you rate the procedure, that’s something you’d like to get out of the way as soon as possible. I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s see what they say and what they decide to do. It could be nothing.”
Rick VandenHurk will finally get his shot in the rotation, which we knew was coming. He’s out of options next spring and the Orioles want to get an early look at him as a starter.
Arrieta might not be the only young starter who’s shut down before the season ends. Showalter said there are other pitchers “on the radar.” But Arrieta has been the first candidate all along.
Showalter described Arrieta’s reaction to the shutdown news as “very professional.”
“He knew at some point it was coming,” Showalter added. “He also knows what’s ahead of him now while he’s here. He’s going to wish he was pitching.”
In other words, this won’t be a vacation for Arrieta. He’ll still work out and continue his pitching education without actually taking the mound.
What kind of impression did Arrieta make on his new manager?
“I can see why people are high on him and I can see why he’s had some challenges at times, too,” Showalter said. “He seemed to be getting better as it went on, but he knows that he’s got to come in next year and he knows he’ll have a chance to make our club.”
Another medical update: Julio Lugo still isn’t available because of a chronic sinus infection. An MRI eliminated many of the Orioles’ concerns.
Final word on the fireworks: As I speculated last night, the person operating the fireworks mistakenly launched one after Alex Rodriguez’s first home run because he heard the crowd roar and assumed that the Orioles were at-bat. Next time, check the scoreboard or the field.
“Somebody made a mistake. We all make them,” Showalter said.
Another Machado update: First-round pick Manny Machado will be here later this afternoon, but he’ll arrive too late to take batting practice.
Here’s the Yankees lineup: