PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Seven months after having a bone spur removed from his right elbow, Jake Arrieta says he’s never felt better.
The results today backed up that claim.
Arrieta didn’t allow a ball out of the infield in two innings and topped out at 97 mph multiple times. He walked one batter, struck out one and threw 17 of his 24 pitches for strikes.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “That’s really the best I’ve felt, not only this year in spring training, but I think in my professional career altogether. Free and easy, not much effort, and the results were as expected. And I’m still getting stronger. A very good sign today.
“I’ve really never felt this good, ever since I’ve been a pro, and to me ... I couldn’t be happier, having felt that way today. And there’s still room for improvement. I still have some strength to gain back and I think it’s going to be a real fun year.”
Arrieta said today’s performance made “everything worthwhile,” referencing the surgery and rehab.
“Revisiting the bone spur a couple times last year and getting it taken out at the beginning of August when I did, it was a hard position for me to be in, having to contemplate surgery, being shut down for the year, not knowing what the results were going to be. But being in the situation where I am now, putting in the hours of hard work day in and day out during the offseason and these first three weeks of camp, I can’t be happier with where I am right now.
“I feel like I could have thrown the whole game today. No soreness, no tightness, just an incredible feeling, really. I’m very happy where I am right now.”
Arrieta held the same concerns as everyone else when teammate Nolan Reimold was hit on the left side of the face by an Alex Cobb pitch.
“I heard a pretty good amount of helmet being hit there, but I did see his face when he did stand up. He looked a little swollen. But hopefully, the helmet took the majority of the impact and it’s just a nice bruise,” Arrieta said. “Hopefully, the orbital bone and everything surrounding his eye and his cheekbone remain intact. We’re all praying for him.”
The Rays took a 2-1 lead over the Orioles on Matt Mangini’s two-out, two-run single off Brad Bergesen in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Josh Bell doubled in the sixth and scored on Xavier Avery’s single.
Nick Johnson has a single and two walks today.
Update: Cobb and Reimold have the same agent, so he was able to get the outfielder’s cell number and will call him later.
Cobb said it was a fastball that got away.
“That’s probably the worst feeling you can have as a pitcher is seeing someone like that, being the cause of a guy taking a step back in his career possibly,” Cobb said. “It’s just something you never want to see on a baseball field. And when you’re the cause of it, it’s a feeling you can’t describe.”
As for the game, Johnson drew his third walk and was removed for a pinch-runner. He reached base in all four trips to the plate.
Update II: Scott Beerer, who replaced Reimold, manufactured the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh when he reached on a bunt single, stole second, took third on a grounder and raced home on a wild pitch. But Brad Coon homered off Oliver Drake (Navy) in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, 3-3.
Drake has allowed four runs in three games this spring, including a two-run homer to Steve Tolleson in an intrasquad game.