The big news yesterday out of sunny Florida was Nolan Reimold getting beaned in the head. Luckily the CT scans came back negative, and the immediate aftermath is nothing more than bruising and a loose tooth. (For Reimold’s sake, I hope the tooth fairy pays more these days than the shiny dime I used to get for my teeth when I was a kid!) However the game that Reimold left behind was a good one which ultimately ended in a 3-3 tie with Tampa after ten innings of play. Jake Arrieta started his first game of the spring, and gave up no hits, no runs, one walk, and struck out a batter.
Arrieta of course is coming off of elbow surgery for bone spurs, so this is a welcome line. We do have to throw in the normal caveat that this is only spring training, and thus a rehearsal. (I would ask however, does U2 not sound good in rehearsal?!) It’s also worth mentioning that it was only two innings. However for a pitching staff that was so beaten up last season, this is great news. Many people, myself and MASN analyst Rick Dempsey included, feel that Arrieta can be a #1 or #2 starter for the Orioles down the stretch. A lot of this hinges on Arrieta’s health, which has to be in order for anything good to happen.
According to multiple reports Arrieta’s fastball was in the 90′s yesterday, and he even hit 97 MPH once on the gun. That’s a great feat no doubt, however I’d prefer that his fastball be in the low 90′s and that he has good command of the zone. Obviously if you can throw in the higher 90′s and command the zone I’m all for that as well, but in my opinion I’d rather sacrifice A FEW MPH for good command. But that’s just me.
Nevertheless, I feel that Arrieta is one of the keys for the Orioles this season. Either him or Tommy Hunter is still my prediction to start Opening Day at Camden Yards. If Arrieta stays healthy, I think he’ll put some wins on the board. If not, we’ll probably see a record similar to what we saw last year (with him being shut down at some point). Injuries can often be a catalyst of sorts in the fine line between winning and losing. Former Oriole Ben McDonald was the Stephen Strasburg of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. While McDonald did have some good years, he never fully fulfilled his original promise due to shoulder injuries (most of which came after he left Baltimore). On the other hand you have someone such as Cal Ripken Jr, who never sustained a serious injury over the course of his career.
With regard to this season, a healthy Jake Arrieta will, in my opinion, be reflected in the win column. I love Arrieta’s approach to the game in that he does have a certain swagger about him on the mound that we haven’t seen in Baltimore in some time. With regard to yesterday’s game, it’s also worth mentioning that Nick Johnson got the start at first base and was on base four times (three walks and a hit). Odds are Johnson will not start the season with the Orioles, however this is what they’re looking for; guys that can get on base and stir up some trouble will eventually trickle runs home.
Tomorrow’s 1 PM game against Boston in Sarasota will be televised by MASN, so fans will get their second look at the Birds in 2012. However if you’re luckier than me and you have CSN Philadelphia on your satellite dish, you can watch the Phillies’ telecast of this afternoon’s O’s/Phillies game at 1 PM. If not, you never know what bars might have the station!
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