The vast majority of today’s pregame media session with manager Buck Showalter, which lasted more than 16 minutes, was devoted to today’s roster move.
Jake Arrieta down, Alex Burnett up.
Here is a sampling of Showalter’s comments:
“He’s obviously got to stay down there 10 days unless there’s an injury and we’ve got him pitching on his normal day down there. I can’t sit here and tell you that anything that’s necessarily going to go on down there physically is going to be a big difference-maker. Like I said before, you go watch Jake on his work day, (there’s) not much better. I actually quit looking at it. I think the thing you’ve got to solve is the mental side of it and the emotional side of it, which I think directly affects the mechanics.
“He will. I mean, the guy’s 27, he’s got two options, he’s going to do this for a while. There’s some things we talked about, things we’ve talked about before. We feel like he’ll pitch again for us sometime. It’s going to kind of be up to him. Who knows? Who comes up and makes that start on Wednesday may take the ball and run with it. I hope so.
“There are a lot of things there. Keep in mind, this guy had a big bone chip taken out of his elbow. All of a sudden, he’s got a little different arm there. That hasn’t been a challenge. If anything, it’s made him better. You see the consistency of his velocity now, where he kind of went back and forth some before.”
The Orioles need Arrieta to better control his emotions. But how?
“We have some thoughts about it,” Showalter said. “It’s a delicate subject when you start talking about that. This game is not always played robotically with mechanics. How does Adam Jones take his emotions out of an at-bat when there’s 30,000 people standing on their feet with the bases loaded? How do you actually do it? It’s hard. Anybody that says they’ve got a magic formula... I’ve got some thoughts and things I shared with Jake, on a personal note. I think we’ve got a couple things in place that we think can help that and help Jake.
“With a guy with Jake, stuff-wise, there is no wrong pitch. You put a finger down, there’s not one that’s a whole lot better than the other. It’s like a lot of times I wish I could let Jake hit off of Jake and have a little different look at it.”
One theory is that Arrieta is an over-thinker on the mound.
“Don’t think Wei-Yin Chen doesn’t think a lot on the mound, or Ham (Jason Hammel), Miguel (Gonzalez). But sometimes you can get paralyzed through analyzation,” Showalter said.
“The game’s tough enough. Sometimes you can want something too much. Jake’s is for the right reason. He knows he can help this club win. We know he can. And some people may take it as a cockiness. I don’t at all. Believe me, the more someone sounds that way, usually the less they are. Those quiet guys who don’t say a whole lot, they’ve got a lot of confidence. When these people say it’s not fear of failure, well, they’ve never failed or succeeded in the major leagues. Different things drive different people. They’re not all the same.
“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. Through thick and thin, talent plays. As much as we like the other part of it, talent plays. He’s got a talented arm. He’s got a good hand.
“I talked to Matt (Wieters) some about it today. I always do. Very frustrating for Matt. He’s as good as there is at putting fingers down. Most of us are looking at how we’re failing him.”
The bullpen isn’t a consideration right now.
“At the very worst, Jake can do that. I really feel that,” Showalter said. “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 emphasized that Arrieta’s performance isn’t the sole reason why he’s been optioned.
“Let’s keep in mind why he’s being sent out,” Showalter said. “He’s being sent out because we need a pitcher in the bullpen. OK? If we had pitched deep in the games in the doubleheader and didn’t have to burn Tommy Hunter and didn’t have to burn T.J. McFarland, Jake would still be here. OK? Because of the way he pitched and the number of innings we had to pitch, we needed an arm because we’re not going to jeopardize...
“If something happens to Tilly (Chris Tillman) early tonight, I’m sure we’ll be having the same conversation after the game, so pitch better. Jake’s frustrated for the right reasons. Not individually because he knows there was a game there potentially to be won, and he was the guy to do it and put us in harm’s way with some moves we had to make today, but he wasn’t the only one. We could have done some things differently, better, to keep this from happening today. I guarantee if you talk to Alex Burnett, he’s not upset about it, so where somebody might be frustrated and upset, somebody else, door opens. I guarantee somebody in Norfolk is pretty excited we had to play a doubleheader. He’s going to get a chance. Some window opens, one closes.”
The Orioles fully expect Arrieta to dominate hitters at Triple-A. He’s done it in the past. That won’t necessarily confirm that his troubles are behind him.
“Don’t act like he’s never pitched a good game in the big leagues. This guy’s been filthy sometimes and pitched effectively without good stuff on a given night,” Showalter said.
“How do I know (things will be different)? You don’t. But what do you want, him to go down there and fail at Triple-A? There’s not another league. It’s there or here. Winter ball is over for the year. Goes down there and pitches well and presents himself as an option, and he’ll be back.
“I hope whoever is pitching Wednesday pitches lights out the rest of the year. I hope Burnett helps us in the bullpen and we don’t make another move. Would you like to wager with me that happens or not happens, you know? Stay tuned. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the season.
“We’re making this move because we’re short in the bullpen and we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to put anybody in harm’s way.”