Arrieta talks about renewed mental focus in return to club

In Jake Arrieta’s last two starts at Triple-A Norfolk, he pitched 12 2/3 innings and gave up just four hits and four runs with seven walks and 16 strikeouts.

Coming off those two outings with a better focus on every pitch and adjusted mental outlook, Arrieta is back with the Orioles and, for now, pitching out of the bullpen. He last pitched in an Orioles game on July 5.

“Real, real happy to be here,” Arrieta said today. “Not necessarily the way I envisioned the year panning out up to this point, but things happen. You have to roll with it and make some necessary adjustments, whether it’s physical or mental.

“Think everyone is pretty aware that most of the adjustment phase (for me) was strictly mental. I don’t say that because I was a mentally weak player. I feel like it was just a thought process that was overly thought. I put way too much into my head going into a game or a side session and just created some of that fogginess or confusion in my head throughout the course of a game.

“The philosophies of the mental side of the game are fairly simple to understand, but a little harder to apply. It’s taken some adjustments, but I feel good with where I’m at now. I’m taking it one pitch at a time. As easy as that sounds, it’s a little harder to put into play.”

In eight starts with the Tides, Arrieta went 3-4 with a 4.91 ERA. In his last two O’s starts he had given up 11 runs over 7 1/3 innings.

He feels he’s returned to Baltimore a better pitcher than when he left.

“Absolutely,” he said. “When I first got down there, I was harping too heavily on (things like) first-pitch strikes and 1-1 counts and trying to pitch deep into the game as opposed to focusing on the pitch at hand and executing that pitch.

“It’s a process that I wished would have clicked sooner, maybe I could have been a part of this team over the last month or month and a half here. But it didn’t work out that way. I want to help this team now wherever I fit in, whether it’s a starter or reliever.”

It is possible that Arrieta’s time here now could be short. The Orioles will have to option someone when they officially activate Joe Saunders tomorrow.

“I really don’t know, just taking it day by day. If you start to worry about that, it can mess with you a little bit,” Arrieta said.

If he does get into a game out of the bullpen, it will be rare event for him. To date, all 58 of Arrieta’s big league appearances have been as a starting pitcher.

“I’ve pitched out of the ‘pen before, but not in the big leagues,” he said. “I understand what it takes to be ready every day, making sure your body is ready, making sure you’re in the mindset to pitch every day when you come to the park.”

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