Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta emerged from a closed-door meeting with manager Buck Showalter this afternoon and headed to the video room to watch more tape of himself. The work continues. The process of turning him into a consistent major league pitcher continues.
Arrieta said he understood why the Orioles optioned him today to Triple-A Norfolk.
“I wasn’t doing my job well enough. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “The team needs me. They need me to be better. That’s the bottom line, really. Wasn’t good enough right now.
“It’s pretty obvious. I talked to Buck about a few things. We talked about high anxiety situations and he pretty much asked me, ‘Why do you have high anxiety in any situation with the stuff you have?’ Basically, I told him that I just want to be what my team needs me to be. Sometimes I create the anxiety for myself. So I just need to limit that and know that I don’t have to create those type of situations for myself.
“It’s not a stuff issue. As far as my mental approach, it’s just knowing that the past is really irrelevant. It’s about just staying in the moment. I let previous instances creep up in my thought process sometimes. I think that’s where things go awry and that’s where the walks come in. I’m not giving up many hits, just putting them on base for free. Just got to command the ball better in the strike zone. That’s pretty much it.”
Arrieta made some adjustments this spring and earned a spot in the rotation. He started the home opener for the third straight season. But he failed to go more than five innings in any of his four starts and posted a 6.63 ERA in 19 innings.
“I’m moving in the right direction,” he said. “It’s just allowing innings to get out of hand with free passes. If I allow them to put the ball in play, things work out in my favor more times than not. That’s what I have to emphasize when I’m down there. Get back to where I need to be to help this team. That’s the bottom line, really. Me being in position to have my dominant stuff from start to finish. There really isn’t a reason I can’t do that. I just need to be more aware of what I need to do.”
And not let down at Norfolk because he’s no longer facing major league hitters.
“It’s not going to be a challenge at all,” he said. “For me, it doesn’t matter who is in the box. I just need to execute more efficiently. Just need to get deeper into games with a lower pitch count. And that’s what this team needs me to do, pitch in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. And I think the reason this is happening is because we haven’t been going deep. I haven’t been going deep enough in the games and we need another arm to come up to take the strain off the bullpen. We need those guys for the long haul. And, myself included, if we don’t go deep in the games, it puts a lot of strain on those guys. So we have to be better and more efficient in going deep into games.”
It could be a short stay in Triple-A for Arrieta.
“I don’t plan on being down there for long,” he said. “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.”
The Orioles could choose later to put Arrieta in the bullpen, as they did with Brian Matusz, but they’re not at that point.
“If that happens at any point in time, then it happens, but I know I can be a very effective starter for this organization at a high level,” Arrieta said. “Just got to get better.”