Another reason to get excited

When first place and the wild card are so far away you’d need to take three buses to get close, you’re grateful for the nights that a pitching prospect is handed the ball.

Big opportunity for Jake Arrieta, welcomed diversion for the rest of us.

Arrieta is supremely confident, and he’s given off that vibe from the first time he reported to spring training last year and former manager Dave Trembley kept referring to him as “a man.” He won’t come unglued on the mound because he’s facing the Yankees.


Arrieta’s promotion was delayed, in part, because he issued too many walks at Triple-A Norfolk, but he surrendered only six in his last four appearances covering 24 innings. He struck out 25 batters in that span.

The Yankees will test him with their patient approach at the plate. They’ll try to run up his pitch count. They’ll force him to throw strikes.

The Orioles aren’t letting Arrieta climb down the ladder into the shallow end of the pool. They’ll find out a lot about this kid tonight.

We still haven’t been informed of the corresponding 25-man roster move, which is an interesting twist. The club usually makes that announcement the night before, telling us who’s coming off the roster, but not confirming who’s joining it.

Reporters were surprised when interim manager Juan Samuel revealed Arrieta’s name yesterday afternoon and eliminated the shred of suspense that remained. I could almost hear president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail gritting his teeth in the Warehouse, since he prefers to wait until the player has reported to the ballpark in one piece.

I like Samuel’s approach, of course. The more information and less speculation, the better.

As soon as Samuel mentioned yesterday that Will Ohman could return to a lefty specialist role, I figured that Alberto Castillo’s days in Baltimore were numbered again. Not that he ever unpacks.

Castillo has run up a 10.13 ERA in 14 games, allowing 16 hits, walking six and surrendering five home runs in 10 2/3 innings. It might be the end of the line for him again. If so, the last shred of suspense would be whether he also comes off the 40-man, though the Orioles easily could transfer Jim Johnson to the 60-day disabled list and solve that problem.

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